Thursday, 16 June 2011

Meena's Risotto Al Funghi Sauce review

I've been receiving lots of jars of different cooking sauces to review lately which is absolutely great news as I'm ultra-busy at work with the end-of-school-year rush so I've been dashing home late, tired and wanting something quick and easy to prepare for the evening meal. They all sound delicious so watch this space for more reviews coming soon.

Last night, I opened the cupboard to see what took my fancy - well, they all did so I went Eeny Meeny Miny Mo and landed on ... Meena's ! It must have been a sign !

Now, I'd never heard of Meena's sauces, let alone tried them, so I didn't know what to expect. The first thing that struck me was the generous size of the jar, which contains 425g of sauce. My one criticism of the Sacla risotto sauces we tried a while ago (and reviewed here) was that the jars were a bit on the small side for a large family so that's a plus point for Meena's already. The smart black labels with arty shots of rustic ingredients look very elegant and immediately give the impression that they are designed for the serious foodie.

I was intrigued to discover more about Meena, the lady behind the sauces, so headed off to google. Her website reveals : "My passion for travel and food has taken me all around the world and each time I visit somewhere new, I’m inspired to create a dish that captures the essence of my surroundings. It’s like bringing a memory home. Each of my recipes has been influenced by one of my favourite journeys. Over the years, I’ve become familiar with some vividly authentic global cuisines so this is my way of bringing them alive for you to cook at home. Every time you open a jar, the aroma and atmosphere of a region should awaken the senses and transport you there. It’s like having the world in your kitchen. Enjoy tasting and travelling with me." So far, so good - I headed off to open the jar hoping for some really authentic flavours.

Now, I have to admit, I didn't have any proper risotto rice so I just used the Uncle Ben's normal long grain rice that was in the cupboard and crossed my fingers it would work. It did, and produced a perfectly respectable risotto, but I'm sure using the proper rice would give an even more impressive and
 creamier texture. Following the instructions is simple - you pre-fry the rice in a little oil, add the jar of sauce and some water, using the handy measuring ridge on the glass jar, bring to the boil, transfer to an oven-proof dish, seal with a tight-fighting lid (or I used foil) and leave in the oven for 35 minutes. You should not uncover the dish or stir the risotto during this time.

I wasn't entirely sure it was ready when I took it out of the oven because it was dry around the edges but "swampy" in the middle. I gave it a quick stir and was left with the creamy, tooth-tender dish you see above. I love the large pieces of recognisable mushroom in there.

Looking at the ingredients list, it all sounds surprisingly natural with not an E-number in sight. It actually reads like a shopping list more than a list of chemicals which is very reassuring : water, double cream (13%), mushrooms (10%), onion, Italian white wine (4%), olive oil, vegetarian Pecorino cheese (3%), shredded porcini mushrooms (2%). The only slightly disappointing ingredient in the whole list is modified maize starch, which sticks out like a sore thumb as everything else sounds so natural and healthy.

Flavour-wise, it is spot on. The different ingredients are perfectly blended, all complementing each other without overpowering the more delicate flavours. You get a definite taste of earthy mushrooms with a slightly acidic, crisp backnote of white wine and a rounded flavour with garlic, plus the creaminess and softness of the rice. It got a huge thumbs-up from the whole family, including the kids who asked for seconds ! It would serve as a meal on its own (maybe with crusty bread and a salad) for two or, as we used it, as an accompaniment to pork chops for a family of five.

Meena's offers a wide range of Indian and Italian sauces. The risotto range also includes
Risotto alla Primavera with Asparagus, Lemon & Mint and Risotto alla Milanese with Saffron and Cream, both of which sound very different and intriguing. We'll be reviewing more of the range over the coming weeks so watch this space for more reviews.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.49

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