Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

President's Choice Blue Menu Roast Turkey with Vegetables

Ok, so admittedly the whole low-fat frozen dinner thing fell a little flat with the Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers Cajun Chicken & Shrimp meal last time. That was...very different, and not very good. So maybe cajun chicken is a little too exotic for a first go. Maybe I have to get simpler. Maybe it's time for turkey.

I love turkey. I am a turkey fiend. If it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, then get the fuck out of the way, because anybody who gets between me and my bird is risking getting their giblets stuck up their stuffing-hole. And stuffing...I love stuffing.

This turkey might explain the violent tendencies.
This turkey might explain the
violent tendencies.

So, on my way to find a low-fat meal, which mostly consist of single-portion pastas, I was very glad to find this: the President's Choice Blue Menu Roast Turkey with Vegetables meal.

The Blue Menu line of foods was released in 2005 as a way for shoppers to quickly identify lower-fat, lower-calorie or high-fibre foods. Each of them has a nifty little logo on them. The idea is to have a line of food that people will pick up because they can save time not having to read the nutrition labels on the boxes. That made me die a little inside.

So this is what it's finally come to.
So this is what it's finally come to.

This meal is Roast Turkey with Vegetables or Vegetables with seasoned roast turkey and savoury stuffing, if you believe the
sub-title. Usually these boxes like to showcase which food is most plentiful first. So, which is it? Turkey or vegetables? Well, according to the box, it's corn. In fact, aside from a few sparse pieces of celery and carrots inside the stuffing, I think that the corn is the only vegetable.

As for low-fat? It's got about 9g of fat per box, 2 of which are saturated. It's not horrible in that sense. In another sense it's got about 720 mg of sodium, which trumps the high amount in the Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers Cajun Chicken & Shrimp by 150mg or approximately the amount found in one of those little packages of ketchup that fast food joints give you when you get drive-thru.

And now, for no particular reason, the rules:

  • Rule #1:
    I must follow cooking procedures exactly as they're shown on the container. I will not deviate from those instructions in any way, and I must prepare food in the fastest manner presented to me.
  • Rule #2:
    I must consume everything that comes with the meal. No hiding of disgusting parts will be tolerated. (In the unlikely event of bones or other inedibles, allowances will be made).
  • Rule #3:
    To make sure my palate is completely free of obstructions, I may only be allowed either water or alcohol. Alcohol does not include fancy-pants fruity girly drinks.
  • Rule #4:
    All food will be graded by smell, taste and mouthfeel, with less offensive qualities receiving higher marks. At the end, each part is receives an average score. The full meal is graded by the average score of each component. Appearance of the food is not graded because, let's face it, they all look pretty bad.

The picture on the box shows a lovely plate of food. Lots of nice cuts of turkey, gently drizzled in gravy served along side a large mound of stuffing and a small amount of corn. Yum! Looks good to me!

After cooking, it's a completely different story. Normally, you see different compartments in a container that keep the food separate until it's time to eat. It's a good system. It keeps the foods from fucking one another up. This stuff however is all thrown together into a single hodge-podge of food. Turkey is thrown haphazardly across the stuffing and the corn is just loose in the package and getting into everything. Gravy is fucking everywhere.

I'm pretty sure that Lovecraft wrote about this once.
I'm pretty sure that Lovecraft wrote about this once.

There is no way in hell that you could possibly get results that appear like the photo on the box. Don't even consider it, it's just not possible. Well, that's maybe not entirely true.

I suppose if you opened up the plastic on the container and chiseled out the components from one another, you could possibly separate the products. Then you could put them into an oven and cook them for about half an hour, while heating the gravy up separately on the stovetop. Then once everything was heated, you could gently ladle the stuffing onto a plate, placed right next to the corn, before lovingly piling the turkey over top, before you delicately pour a stream of gravy on top.

And this is the cold hard reality of the situation.
And this is the cold hard reality of the situation.

But seriously, who has the fucking time it would take to do all that? President's Choice certainly wins the award for most bullshit on a food package. Well, enough bitching about the box. It's time to bitch about the food inside the box.

It might not be good, but at least there's not much of it.
It might not be good, but at least there's not much of it.

First up was the turkey. It was a very pleasant surprise that it was actually turkey. No foolin! It was seasoned breast meat, cut into small slices. In all, there was maybe about 5 slices, roughly equivalent to the size of a half a pack of playing cards. There really isn't a lot going on here meat-wise.

The smell wasn't bad. It was almost exactly what turkey is supposed to smell like. It even fell apart in my mouth like turkey is supposed to. So it gets high marks for realism.

The taste however is a different manner. It tastes less like turkey and more like chicken. I didn't notice until afterwards that this contains both chicken fat and chicken broth, probably both as part of the gravy, but the taste must have permeated throughout turning this from what was shaping up to be a wonderful thing into a mediocre display of mediocrity. One good point: there was so little turkey that I didn't have to suffer it for long.

Smell: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 9/10
Total Score: (6.6/10)

I've quite literally shit more appetizing piles than this.
I've quite literally shit more appetizing piles than this.

Stuffing is just one of those great foods. Sometimes I use a package of the instant stuff to make a little casserole with my leftovers, and sometimes I'll just make a batch and have it for dinner. High carbohydrates yes, but tasty too.

This stuff has all the elements of stuffing. There's breading, carrots, celery, spices. There's also cranberries, which have no place in good stuffing, but I'm willing to overlook.

This stuffing, and I use the term loosely, has traded the lovely fluffiness of the stuff I love for a loose mix of wet ingredients that stick together in a mass that resembles loose stool. That's what you get when you skimp on bread for crumbs.

I'm not kidding about the shit part. It's brown like shit, it's very loose, it's gritty and there are little pieces of corn stuck in it. If I were to dump this in the toilet, it would look exactly like somebody with diarrhea had relieved themselves in my john and forgot to flush. I had to look away from it while I was eating. If I looked down, I started to gag from the sight of it.

All that aside, it smells nothing like it should. There's a wet grain smell instead of sage and awesomeness. The texture as I mentioned before is loose and watery with a gritty quality that one associates with sand. The taste is somewhat of sage, but overall there's a taste of 'wateriness' about it. It's vile in its emptiness.

Smell: 4/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 1/10
Total Score: (2.6/10)

Vegetables (Corn, corn and only fucking corn)
Corn is a vegetable, not multiple vegetables.  Singular.
Corn is a vegetable, not multiple vegetables. Singular.

The box says vegetables. The ingredients say corn. Yes, corn is a vegetable, but if it's the only fucking vegetable, why not just say corn? It saves on the cost of black ink and it's a lot less deceiving.

As far as corn goes, this is actually some of the best that I've had from a frozen dinner. There's a slight musty smell to it, but overall, the taste and the texture are both excellent. I'd say that it could have come straight from a cob, but that would be a bold-faced lie. It could have come straight from a can though!

Smell: 6/10
Taste: 7/10
Mouthfeel: 8/10
Total Score: (7.0/10)


And now we come to the gravy. It's a good thing too, because there's a ton of this shit and it's all over everything.

Remember sitting down for a Thanksgiving dinner and seeing your grandmother's gravy there? It was hot and creamy and absolutely bursting with flavor.

Well, prepare to be disappointed. This stuff is smooth, but it's thin and watery. It doesn't smell like meat, but rather like the idea of meat. As for taste? What taste? This gravy is as tasteless as it gets. It's only good for mixing with the stuffing to thicken it up a bit and make it edible.

Smell: 4/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 5/10
Total Score: (4.0/10)

The Totals:

Smell: 5.3/10
Taste: 4.3/10
Mouthfeel: 5.8/10
Total Score: (5.1/10)

All in all, the meal had promise, but squandered it by skimping out on some of the must have ingredients in exchange for a smaller calorie count. If they had removed the gravy entirely and used pieces of bread in the stuffing instead of crumbs, they could have had a very decent meal with less fat. The meal was moist enough that it really didn't need gravy, especially the watery stuff that tried to use instead.

Bottom line is this: The secret to making healthy food from unhealthier options is usually to cut corners and replace ingredients. Just keep the damn priorities straight and it might not be a disaster.

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