Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mash Direct - stress-free accompaniments for Christmas dinner (review)

The turkey may be the centrepiece of Christmas dinner but it's not usually the bit that takes the most time (apart from the defrosting, if you've bought a frozen one !). Everyone has their favourite festive accompaniments - parsnips, carrots, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pigs in blankets, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, ... - so, as well as being time consuming, it's also a logistical nightmare trying to get everything ready at the same time. Mash Direct want to take some of the stress out of preparing your Christmas meal by offering a range of award-winning premium vegetable accompaniments that just need reheating.

Each product contains specially selected heritage vegetable varieties, chosen for their flavour rather than appearance, grown and prepared on their family-run farm in County Down. The vegetables are gently steam cooked immediately after harvesting to ensure an unrivalled fresh flavour and texture, whilst retaining their natural nutritional benefits. And if all that wasn’t enough, all of Mash Direct’s products are gluten-free, with no artificial additives, preservatives and colourings, and low in salt.

Mash Direct sent us over some samples of their range to see how they compared to home-cooked. Here's what we tried :

Roasted Root Vegetables – "A tasty mix of parsnips, carrots and beetroot, marinated in a delicious mix of herbs." (RRP £1.79) I always chop carrots and onions to go under the Sunday roast and these were very similar - they even look homemade because they're roughly chopped rather than being totally regular in size. I'd never have thought of adding beetroot to the mix so it was a nice addition, and the herbs are the finishing touch. Very tasty and just as good as my homecooked ones.

Honey Glazed Parsnips – "Freshly steam-cooked parsnips coated in butter, honey and light brown sugar for a deliciously sweet taste." (RRP £1.59) Roasted parsnips are already quite sweet so I'd never thought of glazing them with honey but they're delicious. A lovely flavour, as good as home-cooked, but a little on the pricey side for the quantity.

Duck Fat Ready To Roast Potatoes – "These sumptuous potatoes are coated in duck fat and ready to cook so they’ll be crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and deliciously moreish" (RRP £1.89). I've often seen people, from bloggers to celeb chefs on TV, extolling the virtues of duck fat for creating the perfect roast potatoes, but I had yet to try it. I can confirm, they do come out beautifully, with a rich taste and beautiful appearance, perfectly golden and crispy on the outside but melt-in-the-mouth inside. I'm not sure I'd buy these though because I'd need a couple of packs for the whole family and that works out very expensive for what it essentially a few potatoes. As they need to be roasted, they're not much of a time-saver either, although I do really love the taste, so they'd be ideal if you were cooking for just one or two people.

Red Cabbage and Beetroot – "One of Mash Direct’s most award-winning products, delicately steam cooked and blended to create a delicious mix of flavours and textures. The winner of two Great Taste awards, a Grocer Gold Award and a Quality Food Award. (RRP £1.89). " I've only ever cooked red cabbage once - you can see my recipe for Slow-Cooked Red Cabbage here - and I thought it was lovely but the other members of the Madhouse Family weren't keen, so I decided it was too much effort for one.  I cooked mine with apple but the beetroot also complements it perfectly, with a fresh tangy flavour that works really well with roast meats. This is such a time-saver and I'd definitely buy this.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and a Butter Glaze – "A delicious take on a Christmas classic: freshly steam-cooked Brussel Sprouts with an indulgent bacon and butter glaze." (RRP £1.89) Brussels sprouts are another vegetable that isn't much favoured at The Madhouse so I rarely cook them. I do like them with the Christmas roast though and these were particularly delicious. Unlike many homecooked sprouts (or at least the ones at the school canteen !), they weren't at all soggy and the bacon bits really take them to another level.

Christmas is often a time for splashing out on special foods so I'm sure the cook in the family would appreciate the time (and stress) saved on Christmas morning by picking up some of these.

for ore information :

 Mash Direct products are available from Ocado, Booths and independent retailers nationwide.

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

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