Having already been lucky enough to review a selection of Stewed!'s One Pot Meals here at The Madhouse, we were very enthusiatic when given the chance to try out their new Bean, Bacon and Bangers variety. Despite the packaging suggesting that it is great for breakfast, we ate it last night for dinner, accompanied with a chunk of home-baked crusty bread and it hit the spot nicely.
What I love about Stewed! meals is that they always look and taste home-made. They're not pretty or dainty, they're robust, hearty, warming and filling meals that are full of big chunks of recognisable ingredients. For this one, without even looking at the label, you know you're eating beans, sausages and bacon chunks. Looking at the ingredients list, it doesn't contain much else, apart from seasoning : Haricot Beans (41%), Water, Onion (11%), Gluten Free sausages (7%) (Pork, Rice Flour, Gram Flour, Maize Starch, Dextrose, Salt, Spices (Black & White pepper), Sage, Spice Extracts (cayenne, Coriander, Mace, Nutmeg), Smoked bacon Lardons (6%) (Pork Belly , Salt, Sugar, Preservatives : Potassium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite*), Chopped Tomatoes, Mushrooms (4%), Black Treacle, Tomato Purée, Red Wine Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Refined Rapeseed Oil, Salt, Mustard Powder, Cracked Black Pepper, Ground Cloves. They even add a reassuring "* Don’t worry; this is part of the traditional curing method of smoked bacon lardons" so you're not buying a whole load of artificial additives and e-numbers. There's basically nothing in there that you wouldn't find in any standard kitchen.
Taste-wise, it was nice enough, although I have to admit I wasn't as totally bowled over as I usually am by the Stewed! pots. There's nothing wrong with the recipe but it just reminded me of flinging together a tin of beans, some bacon and some sausage chunks which is something I could do quite quickly and simply myself. It didn't have the wow-factor of the more exotic Stewed! dishes that send your tastebuds off on culinary journeys to far-flung corners of the globe like Thai Green Chicken & Noodle, Chorizo, Chickpea & Pork or Hungarian Goulash.
It actually reminded me of a meal I threw together in the slow cooker a couple of months ago. I put beef, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and haricot beans into the slow cooker and left it to do its magic all day long. When I served it up, it was OK but Madhouse Daddy Mike's comment, "a whole day's cooking for what is essentially the same as a can of beans", summed it up really ! The haricot beans in the stewed! pot are tooth-tender so if you (or the kids) are used to eating baked beans, you'll probably find them a bit firm. I actually prefer this texture to baked beans which are often overly mushy though.
I'd be tempted to add some spices - maybe a dash of chilli, cajun seasoning or curry powder - or a quick squeeze of barbecue sauce to jazz it up a bit more next time. We ate ours with a chunk of bread but this would work well as a baked potato topping too, or with mash, sprinkled with cheese.
Each 325g pot contains 325 calories and counts as two of your 5-a-day. It also contains 11.4g of fat, of which saturates 3.6g, 11.7g of sugar and 2.3g of salt. They can be frozen and are really handy if you need a quick but nutritious meal after a long day at work.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £3.49 for 325g
for more information : http://www.steweduk.co.uk/beans_stew.html
Disclosure : I received two Stewed! One Pot Meals in order to write the review.
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