January 28, 2011

Amy's Veggie Steak & Gravy Whole Meal

This week, it's another Amy's meal: Veggie Steak and Gravy Whole Meal. First up, let's talk terminology. The box calls this a veggie steak. I had very little faith that anything made of not-meat could even remotely resemble a real-meat steak. I ate it and was not surprised that it couldn't compare. Then, after reading the product description on the Amy's website, I realized that they're instead trying to imitate Salisbury steak, which is an entirely different thing. For non-meat-eaters who may not be aware: Salisbury steak is basically ground beef that is formed into a patty that is vaguely steak-shaped and served with a brown sauce (that's about as specific as Wikipedia gets). So, with that in mind, I re-assessed my experience.

An important thing to remember when reviewing frozen entrees is that they're really not going to be as good as something that is freshly cooked. I shifted my expectations downwards and pulled the tray out of the box. Just about as pretty as I was expecting. I briefly considered taking a picture, but I figured most of you know what frozen meals look like. Just imagine mashed potatoes, green beans, and a brown blob with brown sauce. There you go. So I popped it into the microwave and cooked it up. Remembering the last time I ate Amy's mashed potatoes I was actually kind of looking forward to at least that part. And I didn't think it was possible to mess up frozen green beans. Luckily, I was not let down on either count. Again, best frozen mashed potatoes I've encountered. I did add just a touch of salt to these, but not as much as the low-sodium meal from last time.

But you're not here to read about mashed potatoes and green beans. Let's get to the main event here. While I was cooking this meal, my kitchen filled with a strong (and exclusively) mushroom-y smell. This turned out to be the gravy. It was definitely a very strongly-flavored mushroom gravy, but when combined with the veggie steak, it was pretty reasonable. The biggest problem with the gravy (and this is probably due to the microwave-cooking element of the experience) was the creepy gummy texture. It was worse around the edges of the tray than in the middle, where it was actually pretty smooth, but the parts that were gummy really stuck to my teeth and the roof of my mouth, which was a little unpleasant.

And now the veggie steak. After the first bite (which unfortunately had a good amount of gummy gravy) I was not impressed. The texture of the veggie steak was… odd. Without reading the ingredients, I was able to pick out oats and walnuts. The oats were kind of tough and chewy, the walnuts had that soft-crunch that I'm having trouble putting into words. For some reason, something in this meal contained cheddar cheese. I have to assume it was the veggie steak, although I couldn't taste it or see it. I do not know why a veggie steak would benefit from cheddar cheese. Any ideas? In any case, while I was trying to figure out whether I liked it, I managed to eat the whole thing. Not a tremendous feat, as the veggie steak was only about 4 inches by 3 inches, but better than tossing it after the first bite.

The experience:
Texture - Potatoes: awesome again; green beans; crisp and juicy; gravy: gummy on the edges, nice in the middle; veggie steak: oats and walnuts, mainly
Flavor - Potatoes: awesome with just a touch of salt; green beans: very green-bean-y; gravy: very mushroom-y; veggie steak: with the mushroom gravy, pretty tasty, actually

Final grade for this attempt: A-

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