With the first post meatiest-launch weekend looming, not to mention Memorial Day being just around the corner, there’s bound to be at least a little boozin’ going on among Meatist readers.
And if there are two things I know, those two things are this: yes, the Pope does wear a funny hat, and no, I’m not the only person that craves a meaty meal after being out too late listening to music and drinking tequila, PBR tall boys (which are frighteningly popular among hipsters down here), or real beer.
And if you need to grip both refrigerator and freezer handles at the same time to stay steady enough to look for a snack, then I don’t care how much you quiero Taco Bell, you need stay the hell out of your car and a late night burrito run is right out.
Of course, cooking when you’re loaded tends to not only result in poor culinary choices (“hmm I wonder how bologna and Bosco would taste?”), it can be dangerous, what with the stove, and the microwave turntable, and the balance issues, and the knives and stuff.
I was thinking about that recently when I saw a big frozen sack of General Tso’s chicken at the supermarket, and wondered who that product’s target demographic is. Besides low-quality Chinese food lovers, could Perdue simply be targeting the lazy? Probably, yes.
But I realized that easy-to-prepare, already-at-home meat dishes are just what an inebriated, protein-craving sucker MC needs, so it was time for another shootout. I’d pick a selection of interesting pre-made meal-like foodstuffs and see how they stack up when you’ve had too much to drink and crave a meat dish. And the only way to find out was to have too much to drink and let nature take its course.
I went with a fairly basic set of criteria: I needed an array of meats that were simple to cook and that did not have TGI Friday’s written anywhere on them. While the evaluations that follow were written when I was sober, my “post-whiskey” notes are all based off of my experiences while cooking them after downing a large quantity of Powers Irish whiskey (which is the best damn Irish whiskey there is, son). I owe my wife Joanna a big thank you here, because she stood by watching me act like an idiot and took careful notes (which we’ll keep hidden if I run for President) and kept me from serious injury. Minor injuries she allowed, probably for her entertainment.
Goya Beef & Potato Puffs (Rellenos de Papa): These made the test because the picture on the box reminded me of the rice balls I love from Ferdinando’s focacceria on Union St. in Brooklyn. The manufacturer says they have a “savory beef filling enclosed in our delicious potato puff pastry.” I don’t think their copyrighters had to eat them.
Post-whiskey: The box offers three different prep methods, one of which, using hot oil, could result a call to 911. Because I’m a scientist, I knew comparing the other two methods was important, so I batched ‘em in the microwave and oven. Note for future reference: place the plate in the microwave, then put the puff on it; carrying a plate with a frozen one is like trying to balance a cup of coffee on your dashboard while lapping Watkins Glen. According to Joanna, my exact words were “holy crap these are slippery bastards!” Setting the timer on the microwave was easy: just hit “add minute” three times. Another went in the oven on a cookie sheet for half an hour.
The microwaved puff came out having bonded to the plate at a molecular level, which I show Joanna by dancing around the kitchen while holding the entire mess by the pastry. My fingers became overly warmed, and required an ice-down. My fork passed through the upper zone of the puff easily before driving into the wooden piling of a base plate, and the entire thing was way too dry. I told Joanna that “this thing could choke a drunk,” before devouring it and not choking. When I go to get the oven version, more ice was required for my fingers. My tongue too. And none of it was worth it. Fifth place.
Post-whiskey: I tore the box apart and found a fleet of corn-dipped Patriot missiles (“looks like rockets!”). Not having learned a lesson from the puffs, I put one on a plate and tried unsuccessfully to cross the kitchen with (“These things roll!”). Instructions require a 70-second dose of microwaves which lead to me clumsily setting the timer seven minutes, a mistake that, had I not caught it, would have lead to the lot of them going supernova. After I reset the timer and waited the longest 70 seconds of my life, I grabbed one and bit into it. Joanna quoted me as saying “Hot. Sweet. Spongy. Really good.” I also pointed out the danger of the stick, mentioning that approaching it from the wrong angle could “scar your uvula.” A great late-night meat munch, and a tie for second place.
Curly’s Pulled Pork: This is one of those pre-made pork deals that come in tubs, refrigerated, not frozen. Curly provided 18 ounces of pulled and overly-sauced pork that supposedly won a “chef’s best taste” award. Lucky for Curly there’s no “chef’s best texture” award.
Post-whisky: Lucky me: the microwave time was in minutes, so I was able to go with the “how many times should I push the ‘add minute’ button?” method of timing. Joanna liked the smell, but the looks made me want to gag. I speared some on a fork and held it up for her, asking “does it look appetizing to you?”
“No,” she said, “it looks like a blood-soaked wig,” Which made me laugh so hard I started to make the sound “hee hee hee,” which made me feel like a girl. And I drooled, too. A bite confirmed that the texture is horrible; I equated it to eating a drain clog. The taste wasn’t awful, and it might work hidden in a bun. Fourth place, barely beating the puffs.
General Tso’s Chicken from Perdue: Sold in a hefty 26-ounce bag. Looks like any low-end Chinese take-out Tso’s I’ve ever had, which means I knew I was in for some sugary fat.
Post-whiskey: I pulled the bag out of the freezer and yelled “ziplock bag, bitches!” To microwave it you have to turn it over halfway through the cooking process: a total pain in the ass because it requires dividing cooking time in half, and drunken math is rarely good math. No turning implements presented themselves, so Joanna was treated to a halftime show of me repeatedly burning my fingers, then sticking them in my mouth and saying “yum.”
Once cooked, I was very happy, and told Joanna I could spend the evening in front of the TV eating it. I also said it was “a bit sweet,” and that the smaller pieces were obscenely hot, but that “I like it a lot.” Tied for second, the general could have owned the position with an easier cooking method (yes, I consider math and a food flip complex, sorry).
White Castle Cheeseburgers: 16 frozen burgers per box, bagged in pairs. I used to stop at the White Castle in the South Bronx on the way back to college after acquiring study aids from my pharmacist, Killa D.
Post-whiskey: Despite the easy-open perforations, I tore the box apart with a kitchen knife after failing to locate the “pull here” tab. Thankfully, instructions appear on each bag, making the destroyed box just a bad memory. Another quick and easy microwaving: one push of the button. Despite the short time, these guys get hot, and I’d suggest a plate to remove them (“Good thing I’m chef,” I told Joanna. I am not a chef.)
Clearly the winner from bite one, they made me so happy that I didn’t even realize they were sold sans-ketchup. I squirted some Heinz onto a plate and it made a long, delightful farting noise that made me laugh so hard I almost choked on the burger I was chewing, thus confirming to my wife that she did indeed marry an infant. Perhaps the perfect frozen food, I love them completely and totally. The winner by a nautical mile.
Wrapping up: The White Castle cheeseburgers are king, as befits a product produced in a castle. The puffs and the Curly’s will never see the inside of my house again, but I’d be happy to welcome the corn dogs and General Tso’s to a late night solo soiree. None of these except the White Castles make great meals when you’re completely sober, but three of them are worth it on ease of use alone. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they’re great answers to the question “I hink I cooda drinked mornie shood an I gotta geh me sumin teat whus in the kishhen?”