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It's easy to overcook beef when reheating it, but braising is a good way to cook lesser cuts of beef so that they become tender. I was also intrigued by the prospect of "chipotle mashed sweet potatoes." One drawback worth pointing out right away is that this is not a complete meal - and Lean Cuisine knows it: on the back of the box it says, [our chef] recommends complementing your Ranchero Braised Beef with a side of green beans...."
This does smell great while cooking, however - the beef sauce is redolent of good quality chili powder. The meat, however, has the texture of fatty gristle, and the chile flavor of the sauce is drowned out by an overwhelming amount of salt. Yet another dish made nearly inedible by the addition of too much salt. It might not have been so bad if, in addition to the salt added to the meat *and* the sea salt added to the overall dish, they hadn't also added potassium chloride for additional salty flavor.
As if that weren't bad enough, the chipotle flavor of the sweet potatoes is nearly undetectable beneath the sweetness of the added orange juice and sugar. One of the more disappointing dishes we've had in a while. (250 calories, 610 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber)
To be fair, our next test meal isn't a complete meal either - it's missing a starch. Lean Cuisine's chef recommends "complementing your Steak Portabello with some roasted root vegetables." I'd be surprised if you had those available for lunch at your desk - instead, have a piece of fruit. (Some brown rice would be great, but if you're going to make brown rice to go with your Lean Cuisine, why not just take leftovers?)
Surprisingly, the broccoli in this dish is cooked more or less properly - it's still got some crunch. And the beef isn't overwhelmingly salty. That's the good news. The bad news is that in texture this is the same beef as in the Ranchero, albeit with a soy flavor rather than a chile flavor. There are a few shards of mushrooms scattered among the beef bits, and one lone piece of onion. While it's not bad, there's really nothing to recommend this, either. With only 150 calories for the whole meal, 570 milligrams of sodium is far too much sodium per calorie to be worth eating this for any reason but excellent flavor - which this doesn't have.
Two poor showings from Lean Cuisine.