“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Other Ready Meals „
I bought these as Mark had been saying that he'd not had a Steak & Kidney pudding for years, I've seen plenty of steak-ey puddings in different shops but he emphasised that the ones his mum (gah!) had the perfect amount of kidney in it. Well, determined to go one better I pounced on these when I saw them in Sainsburys for £1.50 for two individual puddings.
We had one each tonight and boy, were they vile!! I'm quite forgiving when it comes to ready meals, sometimes the convenience and damned yumminess of processed food is just called for sometimes. Thank god for the McCain Beer Battered chips as the tiny pudding wouldn't have satisfied the appetite of my three year old, even if I'd felt like eating the whole thing!
One thing that made me think these would be good puddings was the fact that they could be boiled in their little plastic pots. Many ready made puddings can only be microwaved, and I've never had the microwaving knack so only use it for soup or beans! Mark cooked ours anyway, he boiled them so I know he'd have followed the instructions on the packet to the letter, I have no idea how long they took but they tasted 'done'.
They have a decent (if small) appearance, while we were eating I said to Mark that they were paler than I expected but the pastry tasted well cooked. It has a very stodgy and fatty taste though so I have to say the puddings definitely look better than they taste!
The filling is no better. The meat has a funny not-quite-fresh-and-messed-with feel, to be fair there is a fairly decent portion of meat in the puddings. Which makes it criminal that the meat is probably only just about fit for human consumption. The ratio of steak to kidney is good but the gravy/sauce is too thick and sticky, which strangely made it feel like there was much less meat in the pudding than there actually is.
All round vileness, edible only in a vague 'mmm, must have crappy food' kinda way. I definitely didn't win the battle of the puddings with this pathetic effort. The best thing about them is the smell, which is absolutely gorgeous - but that just adds insult to injury as they have such a nasty taste! One of the worst things is the aftertaste, which is the greasy taste of badly made suet pastry. It's horrible and leaves me with a taste is my mouth which is much too much like stera milk for my liking! <shudder>
The gravy doesn't add much moisture to the pudding even though there's plenty of it. It doesn't soak into the pastry as it should and just isn't very nice at all, the meaty flavour of the gravy feels so forced that it makes the whole pudding taste ridiculously synthetic.
I'm trying to think of something nice to say about the pudding. To be fair, these are bargain basement puddings. I made the stupid mistake of forgetting that some things are just too cheap. The last savoury pudding I had was a M&S one which cost £4 for a much larger individual pudding, the price difference between that one and this poor Sainsburys effort is almost as huge as the difference in taste. Not everyone can shop in M&S all the time (I know I can't!) so if you have to fit Steak & Kidney puddings into your weekly budget then I suppose these are worth a shot.
Anyway, Mark's mum won that round. I don't begrudge her that, she can source the best Steak & Kidney puddings. But I can do b*** j*** - beat that, Pudding Woman!
£1.50 from Sainsburys.
PRICE: £1.39 per pack containing two x 340g puddings
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per pack):
(of which sugars): 1.4g
(of which starch): 38.4g
(of which saturates): 8.8g
(of which mono unsaturates): 12.4g
(of which polyunsaturates): 0.5g
Water, beef, beef kidney, cornflour, onion, tomato puree, salt, roasted barley malt extract, beef extract, beef fat, bay leaf, black pepper, rosemary extract, palm oil, sunflower oil, wheat flour, disodium diphosphate, sodium hydrogen carbonate
Contains wheat gluten and barley gluten
Of course, home made steak & kidney puddings are without doubt superior to most, if not all ready-made brands. If you are like me and have little time or inclination to cook, yet like to indulge in good old English traditional grub, then no doubt you rely heavily on ready made versions of all your favourites.
Steak & kidney pudding is one of those things that when ready-made, can cross the whole spectrum from disgusting right through to excellent, then back down again, on a constantly sliding scale. Until quite recently and despite having shopped at Sainsbury's on a regular basis for something like 35 years, I'd never tried their ready-made frozen steak & kidney puddings, when I spotted them nestling in their frozen food department.
Sainsbury's 2 Steak & Kidney puddings come in a dark red and brownish coloured deep box with an image of a cut open pudding on three sides. The remaining sides show nutritional information, ingredients, allergy advice, storage/cooking instructions, and the manufacturer's contact details.
Inside the box, two puddings nestle in white plastic pots and are each covered with a white plastic peel-off film. The puddings can be microwaved or steamed in a saucepan of water on top of the cooker, the latter being the method I personally prefer. When microwaving, the plastic peel-off film lids need to be pierced a few times, yet for steaming, the plastic coverings need to be removed altogether.
Usually I find these peel-off films extremely irritating in that it's rare they will ever come off in one piece, but with this product, that didn't turn out to be a problem, as each piece of film was easily removed.
Each pudding is of a serves one person size, but being greedy and having a large appetite, I chose to eat both at the same time, with a selection of green vegetables and carrots as accompaniments.
There is no mention on the packaging as to whether a lid should be placed on the saucepan during the steaming process, so I decided to use my initiative and employed the saucepan lid to hopefully stop the tops of the puddings drying out.
The puddings can be steamed from frozen, but if the microwave method of cooking is used, they must be defrosted thoroughly in the fridge first. The recommended steaming time is 45-50 minutes (I went the whole 50), and the recommended microwaving time is 6 minutes for a single pudding, and 10 minutes for 2 puddings.
Whilst steaming, the puddings gave off no aroma whatsoever, and once whilst cooking, I lifted the lid from the saucepan to have a peep and see if the water was evaporating too quickly - it wasn't, but I wasn't too impressed with how the tops of the puddings looked. They appeared dry to me, and the suet pastry wasn't rising at all, as I can remember my mum's doing when she used to cook them for me during my childhood.
Once the cooking process was complete, I lifted each pudding from the simmering water and the sight which greeted me didn't look appetising at all. The tops of the puddings looked a dull grey colour, and little bits of the suet pastry had a very gluey appearance, a bit like tired wallpaper paste. I ran a palette knife around the edges of each pudding to loosen, then tipped each one in turn onto my plate, and despite me levering the suet crust away from the sides of the pots, the puddings still didn't come out whole. The bottoms had stuck fast to the bases of the pots and I had to do a bit of scraping to get everything out.
As the puddings had fallen apart, I could instantly see the filling, and despite my earlier misgivings, the chunks of beef inside looked fairly substantial. The gravy was a beautiful rich, dark brown colour, and at last I could smell a delicious beefy aroma rising up from my plate. The ratio of meat to pudding crust and gravy seemed perfect, and I actually was looking forward to eating my meal.
I sampled a little of the suet crust pastry first, and wasn't overly impressed. The consistency overall was quite chewy and hard, even where it had gone gluey on the tops of the puddings. If the pastry had been nice, fluffy and light, I'd have liked it to have been a bit more substantial, but as it was a little less than mediocre on the taste and consistency stakes, I was relieved that it was only about 1/8th of an inch thick.
The gravy tasted delicious....it coated the suet crust very well, thus making it moderately edible. The flavour was lovely and meaty, rich, and just a little peppery without being overpowering, although I couldn't detect any onion. I didn't find any kidney at all inside of the filling, but for me that was only a problem from the point of view that the product is marketed as steak & kidney pudding - maybe the production line machinery had run out of kidney when mine were made? Each piece of beef was chunky without being offputtingly (is there such a word??? - well, I declare there is now as I've just invented it!!!) big, and the texture of the meat was deliciously tender, requiring very little chewing.
Aside from the poor consistency and gluey-ness of the suet pastry, another problem arose in that despite the good flavour and tenderness of the meat, there were a couple of beef chunks inside of each pudding which had lumps of fat attached to them, and that's the fastest way to put me off of any meat product or dish containing meat. I tried not to let it deter me from eating the whole meal, and I did finish everything - except the globs of fat - but my enthusiasm waned quite a lot, as I simply can't bear fat on meat.
In summary, I feel that these steak & kidney puddings are reasonable value for money, and one pack containing two puddings is ample for two people, but the not very nice suet pastry and the globs of fat clinging to a couple of the pieces of meat made my appreciation levels drop down somewhat.
If I'm going to eat a meal which is very high in fat and calories, as these puddings are, then I want to compensate for my over-indulgence with the whole thing being indescribably delicious, and Sainsbury's Steak & Kidney Puddings didn't quite come up to that demanding standard, despite the gravy tasting excellent.
The fat and calorie content can to a degree be compensated for in that the product contains a high level of good protein, but I don't think these puddings will be my first choice in the future.
I feel it would be unfair of me to say this is a rubbish product, but it isn't anything particularly special either, which does seem to be reflected in the low price.
If you don't mind a little bit of fat on your meat, you may like these puddings as the gravy is good enough to compensate for the borderline unpleasant consistency of the suet pastry, but you may be disappointed at the lack of kidney.
Sorry Sainsbury's.....these aren't really for me, except in an emergency.
Thanks for reading!!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~