Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews
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If there's anything that people in the United States are (almost) guaranteed to be eating in November, it's turkey. So I was a little dismayed when my wife brought home three turkey meals for us to test this week. They're all from Lean Cuisine's "Comfort Cuisine" line, and two are labeled "New Recipe," which has been good news in the past.
The first one we tested was the Roasted Turkey and Vegetables. This is turkey with a mushroom gravy along with green beans with cranberries and slivered almonds. I'd feared that the green beans would be limp and mushy, but they were actually still moderately crisp and flavorful. The cranberries and almonds add a sweet and savory note - all in all, a good recipe. The turkey was also surprising - actual thin slices of turkey, although it tasted just a shade too salty. I was surprised that it tasted salty when the box says it contains just 480 milligrams of sodium along with the 190 calories and 4 grams of fiber, but then I looked at the ingredients and noted the addition of potassium chloride - a salt-free salt substitute. That explains it! The mushroom gravy tasted like... mushroom gravy. A good choice for a light lunch.
This was followed by a meal I was rather surprised to see: Glazed Turkey Tenderloins with whipped sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes in a convenience meal! The good news is that the turkey and gravy in this meal is basically the same turkey and gravy as in the Roasted Turkey with Vegetables meal. (The Glazed Turkey Tenderloins contains 660 milligrams of sodium along with the potassium chloride, 3 grams of fiber and 250 calories.) I've never been much of a fan of the overly-sweet sweet potatoes (actually yams) that people serve at holiday time, and fortunately these whipped sweet potatoes aren't that sweet. These are smooth and almost buttery and have just a touch of brown sugar and vanilla. Good stuff if you like sweet potatoes this way. The bad news is the dressing. It looks good, smells of sage and thyme and has cranberries and celery in it - all good things. But it has the gummy, chewy texture of old, moistened croutons. Too bad.
The final turkey meal is a Roasted Turkey Breast with "savory herb dressing" and baked apples in a cinnamon sauce . I love how Lean Cuisine describes the turkey in these meals as three different things: tenderloins in the first two meals and turkey breast in this last one, when they all look and taste exactly the same. Which is fine. It's good, actually. The apples in this meal are good - baked but not to mush and with a good, cinnamony glaze. Once again the downfall is the dressing. According to the ingredients listing on both boxes, this dressing is made with bread crumbs, while the other was made with croutons (and tasted like it). And these also taste like they're made with bread crumbs - and not in a good way. This bread crumb dressing once again has good flavor, but it varies in texture from too mushy to chewy. Another meal marred by poor texture. That's why we eat it - so you don't have to.