Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Food Product Review - Banquet Homestyle Bakes: Cheesy Ham & Hashbrowns
It's no secret that your's truly loves terrible food. The greasier, the unhealthier, the unappetizier the better. My chili is like a obese, flatulent siren, luring people who should know better into rocks of gastrointestinal distress. And every week when I go do the shoppin', I usually pick up one box of my cruel temptress Betty Crocker's dry-macaroni-and-cheese-powder concoctions otherwise known as "Hamburger Helper". Now I'll admit to dabbling in some of the other Helpers: namely the Tuna variety (the tetrazzini is my favorite) and the Chicken Helper with mixed results, but I usually by the next week I'm crawling back to that sadistic little anthropomorphic white glove's bowel candy. But this week a huge box just above the Helpers caught my eye:
"Homestyle Bakes? What's this? Cheesy Ham and Hash Browns? I like me some hash browns, cheesy or no, but do the really expect me to buy a whole ham just so I can make this? They must really think me a fool, using the promise of hash browns and cheese just to pressure me into buying one of their fancy, expensive hams! Nice try, Banquet! It almost worked! I'll just be putting this back on the shelf, I think I saw a new Oriental-style flav- But what is this?"
Here are the contents freed from their box. One can of "savory" ham and cheese, one bag of something that is, I think, potato-based and a silver bag which is helpfully labeled "Chive Crumb Topping". This bag also lists a couple of ingredients, namely "wheat" and "milk". Now, I'm no smart-healthy-food-knowing-guy but the last time I looked at a food pyramid I'm pretty fucking sure I saw wheat and milk propping up a few of the sections. I'm feeling healthier already!
OK, now that it's been proven that this is some healthy shit right here, let's start, as the directions tell us, by opening the can of "savory" ham and cheese and getting this party started!
Well I can't say I was prepared for the color. That's a pretty unnatural hue for any foodstuff and the ham doesn't look "savory" as much as "cut into little squares and drowned in artificial cheese". But, hey, it's still early. Let's add the hash and gets to brownin'!
Now we're cooking! Keep in mind, I used the range instructions so the "bakes" part of the "Homestyle Bakes" isn't really part of this review. One of these days I will pony-up for a casserole dish, but for tonight I'm gonna cook this like some Helper which, strangely enough, is exactly how it's printed on the back of the box. Here is the finished product:
So even with the generous application of wholesome wheat and milk, that crazy neon orange color still shines through. Now, for some folks, this may be a warning. To me, it's a challenge!
The texture is not unappealing. The hash browns softened nicely into something resembling potatoes and the cheese glop thickened a little anyway. So let's have a bite.
Overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. You can barely taste the ham or the potatoes at all through the all-encompassing yellowness of the cheese and yet the cheese itself is not really all that cheesy tasting. However, it did not once trigger my gag reflex and as far as I know my eyesight hasn't suffered, so I'll give it a pass.