|Dinner by Trader Joe’s
Organic Brined Chicken in Many Cloves Garlic Sauce,
Reduced Gilt Mac and Cheese, Asparagus with Garlic Salt
|Trader Joe Coulombe|
|Lines to get in…lines to check out
TJs at Broadway and 72nd St. NYC
Lo and behold Trader Joe’s finally landed in New York right near where I was working. The lines formed out the door, which put me off the place. And I was also saddened to see that New York liquor laws prohibited the sale of one of TJ’s most famous brands, Charles Shaw wines, better known as ‘2 Buck Chuck’ because in California at least, these wines sold for $1.99 a bottle. So I did not instantly become a shopper. Then a Trader Joe’s opened 3 short blocks from our apartment. Despite the cold, lines form outside the store frequently and despite the incredibly long check out lines, I became an almost daily shopper there.
Our Chicken Dinner a la Trader Joe’s
# 7. Organic Pre-Brined Chicken 2.99 lb. (4 oz. portion Sodium 520 mg. 22% RDA. And # 8. Many Clove Garlic Cooking and Simmer Sauce – chopped fresh garlic, garlic puree, roasted garlic, granulated garlic 18 oz. 3.79 (Sodium 400 mg. 17% RDA).
The chicken is superb—every bit as good as a Kosher Chicken which is similarly brined–but minus the blessing and much lower in price. I followed the instructions on the Many Clove Garlic Sauce jar and using the chicken cut up into 8 pieces, I browned it thoroughly on all sides. The chicken went into a baking dish into which the sauce had been poured. Covered, it emerged 40 minutes later perfectly cooked and delicious.
With this I served # 9. Fresh asparagus, miraculously priced at $1.99 lb. when TJ’s competition was selling it for a dollar more. These I finished off with a knob of butter and a generous twist of Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt Grinder. Vegetables are a reason to shop TJ’s all by themselves.
# 10. With the chicken I also served “Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese.” The reduction in guilt was ascribed to the 65 % less fat and 25% fewer calories than their regular mac and cheese. But the comparison is a bit misleading: A serving still comes in at 270 calories of which 50 are from fat. And as with a lot of ‘reduced fat’ items, Sodium is the flavor carrier at 540 mgs. Or 22% RDA (halved, one box is one portion). You may be tempted by the $1.99 price tag but don’t. If you’re going to eat mac and cheese, eat real mac and cheese please.
# 11. We’re not big cereal eaters but I couldn’t pass by the Coconut Cranberry Granola at $2.49 for 16 oz. This is not just a bargain but a fantastic addition to #12, their Whole Milk Greek Yogurt (1.29 for 8 oz.) which I highly recommend since Chobani has been playing the reduced-cup-size-same-price-as-before game. The Non-Fat Greek Yogurt is the same size as Chobani (5.3 oz.), every bit as good and just .99 cents a cup.
“Pork Belly is the new bacon”, The “Fearless Flyer” states, coming to the party late. But then they admit #13. Pork Belly is bacon. Pork Belly has risen in price with the demand for its sinfully decadent, crispy, melt-in-your mouth fatty goodness. So TJ’s partially cooks the product and sells it in an absurdly oversized box containing a chunk of 12 oz. for $4.99. I could have kicked myself because the price is identical to a pound of pork belly at our full-service supermarket. But mostly because I had just made this (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2014/01/cosmo-goss-beer-braised-pork-belly-and.html) and TJ’s Pork Belly was decidedly not as good. No real flavor which mine, poached in ale, had in spades. Pass this one by and make your own.
Finally, I did an indoor Asian Barbecue with #14, TJ’s Baby Back Ribs—–not the marinated version which is pre-marinated and pre-cooked and, need I say, pre-salted.
I bought a single rack, perfect for 2 and, at $10.48, a great buy. I cooked them using a Bobby Flay technique that uses both oven and broiler–not a grill– and produces sensational ribs in an hour and a half. Here’s the link to that post:
I served the ribs with #15, Trader Joe’s Scallion Pancakes. These are one of my favorite Asian menu items. The package of frozen ones at TJ’s are South Korean-made. They can be heated in an oven in 4 to 7 minutes which I dutifully tried. But for total crispy brownness, I’d recommend frying them in a little oil. STOP THE PRESSES! Last night, several days after I posted this, I did indeed fry the scallion pancakes in a little oil. They were out of this world! And so much better than the oven-baked ones you see here. I can now say these WOULD make the cut at most Asian restaurants and I’d recommend giving them a go at $3.49 for 4.