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Chicken Alfredo and Penne alla Vodka

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Chicken Alfredo from Rao's

In July of last year we discovered frozen meals from Rao's. Their single-serving Chicken Parmesan and single-serving Meat Lasagna were less than impressive overall - one burned and one was overly salty as well as under-filled - although elements of both meals were quite good.

Despite our less-than-stellar experience, we continue to adhere to our motto: "We eat it, so you don't have to." Today we have two more single-serving meals from Rao's, and this time we started with their Chicken Alfredo, which has 470 calories, 770 milligrams of sodium (a bit high, but only a 0.6 ratio of calories to fat), and 2 grams of fiber.

the Chicken Alfredo from Rao's, after microwaving

When you look at the above picture of the Chicken Alfredo, you might wonder where the sauce is.

The answer? All over the inside of my microwave.

The instructions say to "Remove entree from carton. Cook on high for 5 min. Let stand for 1 min. Remove plastic film and stir before serving. Enjoy!"

Accordingly, we cooked the dish for 2 1/2 minutes, intending to turn the dish and then cook it another 2 1/2 minutes. After the first 2 1/2 minutes we had a moderate explosion in the microwave. We wiped it up, turned the dish, and set the timer for another 2 1/2 minutes, only to stop the cooking after just 1 1/2 minutes because the sauce was continuing to boil over in the microwave.

What sauce was left is very thin, not thick and creamy as you might expect from an Alfredo sauce. It does have a decent garlic and parmesan flavor, but what there is of it simply isn't worth the 25 grams of fat and 13 grams of saturated fat.

(Yes, a certain amount of the sauce was left in the microwave. No, I'm not going to guess how much fat and calories were wiped up and thrown in the trash.)

The grill marks on the chicken strips look "incredibly fake" and too many of the pieces are tough and chewy or simply gristly. On the plus side, the pasta is cooked just to al dente. If the sauce weren't basically nonexistent because of the microwave mishap, we might give it a (not for every day, but now and then) thumbs up.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Penne alla Vodka from Rao's

The Penne alla Vodka (410 calories, 500mg sodium, 3g fiber), on the other hand, did not make a mess in the microwave and there is plenty of sauce in this dish.

It's really tasty, with a sweet tomato flavor and some sharpness from the vodka along with creaminess and umami from the cheese. Good stuff!

the Penne alla Vodka from Rao's, after microwaving

The penne is some of the best microwaved pasta we've ever had: al dente to the point of almost under done, and with 3 grams of fiber, this is plenty satisfying.

As with all of Rao's single-serving meals thus far, the amount of fat in this dish makes it something you shouldn't plan on consuming every day. But it would make a good meal to keep on hand to have with a side salad for a quick weeknight dinner.

Posted: January 29, 2021