September 3, 2010

Trader Joe's Chicken-less Pulled Chicken

This week, we veer away from the meatless meatball realm and towards some chicken-less chicken. That's right - more Trader Joe's Chicken-less Chicken! Pulled chicken, this time, with barbecue sauce! As with the chicken-less stuffed cutlets, the box is less than enthusiastic about its contents. The highest praise it can muster is "good, home-style barbecue on every count." But in my experience, a good barbecue sauce can cover a myriad of flaws, so maybe these won't be so bad.

This was one example of the picture on the package not looking as good as the contents of the package. Not sure what exactly they were going for, but the picture has some really dim lighting, which leads the food to not look terribly appetizing. It does look better on a bun than in a plastic pouch, but still… Actually, the package itself looks worse than the scanned version I posted here. Weird.

I followed the instructions carefully - again, the recommended method was the microwave. I pierced the bag and placed it into a bowl, and microwaved that sucker for the required 2 minutes (until hot, as indicated). Then I carefully cut open the bag the rest of the way (careful - it really does get quite hot), and scooped out a chunk of chicken-less chicken. I took a deep breath and ate it. First off, the sauce was very nice.

Side note: I've been coming around to the whole barbecue sauce thing over the years. I was never much into it - in fact, my parents would leave a couple pieces of chicken un-sauced for me when my dad was grilling some barbecued chicken, because I just liked it better that way. But now, thanks to my wife's near-obsession with the stuff, I eat it a lot more.

Okay - back to the chicken-less chicken. The sauce was good, but it was unable to disguise the flavor of the chicken-less chicken. That's some serious flavor happening if barbecue sauce can't cover it. It did, however, mute it significantly. And, with further experimentation, when eaten on some bread, the flavor was much more manageable. In fact, I thought I'd go ahead and eat some more of it. While I was munching away, I pondered the texture. Plain, it still had that weird springiness that I noticed in the stuffed cutlets, but for this application it didn't seem terribly out of place. With the bread involved, the springy texture was also downplayed a bit.

One more thing I noticed while working my way through my chicken-less pulled chicken sandwich: if I waited too long between bites (at least 30 seconds or so), a weird aftertaste crept in - sort of reminiscent of body odor. Not great, and it actually prevented me from finishing my sandwich, because after this happened a couple times, it got me thinking about what might be in there that would cause that aftertaste, and suddenly I just didn't want to eat it anymore.

The experience:
Texture - Weirdly springy, but didn't seem too bad for this purpose
Flavor - The barbecue sauce took care of most of the nastiness - the bread took care of most of the rest. That aftertaste though…

Final grade for this attempt: B-


  1. Oh my god the same thing happens to me when I eat fake meat. I never finish my morningstar riblets because of that after taste and thinking about what is in there.

  2. Really? The riblets? I thought those were super delicious!

  3. I bought this a few months ago and didnt care for it. The sauce was good but it tasted strongly of carrots and beta carotene, which I just dont care for (I hate carrots). If you like carrots, you may like this. Not for me. The morningstar farms riblets are way way better. Trader Joes breaded chicken-less chicken is to die for though.