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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Lean Cuisine Culinary Collection

Grilled Chicken Caesar and Chicken Makhani

Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken Caesar Review by Dr. GourmetI'd been positive that we had not yet tasted today's Grilled Chicken Caesar pasta dish, but my wife discovered after the tasting that we have. Although we don't like to repeat ourselves if we can avoid it, we'll make an exception in this case because it's been a good ten years (!!) since the last review.

The idea of a Caesar sauce for chicken and pasta is a good one and I'll put it on my recipe suggestion list for working on sometime in the future. A nice, garlicky sauce redolent of Parmigiano-Reggiano, with al dente pasta, tender grilled chicken, and lots of veggies? Sounds good to me! And indeed it smells nice and garlicky while cooking.

The problem, as our tasters pointed out, is that the sauce is only garlic scented. To be fair, the label says it's "garlic flavored radiatore pasta in a parmesan caesar sauce," so expecting the sauce to taste of garlic might be expecting too much. Or is it expecting too much for the sauce to taste like anything? It would appear so. Much of the flavor in this dish comes from the odd-tasting pasta, which according to the ingredients list contains "gelatin from fish" but no mention of actual garlic. Indeed, the pasta does have a slightly fishy flavor, as if the anchovies used in a classic Caesar dressing were incorporated into the pasta. Yet it also has a faint metallic aftertaste that's off-putting.

The 7 tiny chunks of chicken in this dish are only slightly dry and the broccoli has a flavorful crunch, but that's not enough to overcome the lack of flavor or the overcooked pasta. While Lean Cuisine has reduced the amount of sodium in this dish from the original 660 milligrams to 610, that's not enough to make this worth eating. In our original review we gave this 2 1/2 forks. Nowadays we don't bother rating them other than to say: leave this one on the freezer case shelf.

Lean Cuisine Chicken Makhani Review by Dr. GourmetWe had higher hopes for the Chicken Makhani. Indian foods are so flavorful that we were sure this would be acceptable - and indeed it is. Half of it.

This is chicken in a savory-spicy Indian tomato sauce with tones of cumin, turmeric and chile peppers. The chicken is tender and even juicy. Where this falls down is the rice dish it's served with. White rice with almond slivers, peas, and carrots cooked with turmeric should have been aromatic and flavorful, but other than the almond slivers this is merely flavorless mush. The five minutes of cooking time reduces the rice to pasty consistency and the julienned carrots are limp. The panel noted that if you mixed the chicken and the sauce into the rice it helped with the flavor, but there's no excuse for that egregiously overcooked pap. I won't even bother telling you the numbers - there are plenty of better Indian meals on the market.