When you’re wheelchair bound and want to eat some BBQ there are few options available:
- Eat leftover BBQ
Except when you’ve eaten all leftover BBQ, including frozen brisket
- Order BBQ to be shipped
Other than the price, the wait does not do well for instant gratification
- Order BBQ to be delivered
Oh what a joyous idea. The only problem is I don’t know of anyone who is doing this or is within reasonable distance to deliver
- Wait for the weekend to go with family or friends
Again, I have that instant gratification issue
There are dark options as well; options that a true aficionado should never experience. The first is only a borderline offense and that is grabbing some precooked BBQ from the grocery store. HEB offers whole smoked briskets and virtually all stores offer multiple other options ranging from pre-seasoned to fully cooked meats. Step a little further into the dark and you’re grabbing a tub of some “chopped beef”. I’ve been guilty of that crime and even ate some chopped beef from a tub only a week or so prior. I’ve said my apologies to the smoke for that one.
But there is a more serious offense. One that lies farther down the aisles and farther into the edge of BBQ sin. Down into the “frozen entrée” aisle they sit: idle, cold, and waiting; Pre-processed frozen BBQ meals.
I chanced upon the Limited Edition Hungry Man “Smokin’ Backyard Barbeque”™ meal when shopping with the wife for the week. Yes, it is a trademarked name. Yes it actually says “limited edition” on the box. It was BBQ and the entire entrée was only a little over $2. When we bought it I wasn’t focused on the word “backyard” but once home I read the contents closer: “Grilled chicken patty and rib shaped pork patty in a smokey chipotle barbeque sauce with Home-style mashed potatoes and sweet corn – includes a chocolate brownie”
First off – where’s the beef? What BBQ, backyard or otherwise, includes no beef? Second a grilled chicken patty? I thought this was BBQ? A “rib shaped pork patty” sounds like their competition is the McRib. Finally a brownie is an odd desert for a BBQ plate, but I’ll let that slide.
I cut a slit in the cellophane and popped it into the microwave for the required initial 3.5 minutes. Sure I could have put it in the oven, but why try that hard? That’s like fixing up your old late 90’s Ford Taurus (or Buick Century).
The instructions then said to remove the brownie and continue cooking for another 2.5 minutes, but the brownie was liquid chocolate so I left it in and microwaved the entrée to its entirety. When complete the entree was not visually pleasing, but I was hungry, dammit.
I pressed my fork into the chicken “patty” and it sliced through easily. It had a faint hint of chicken and the texture was as if finely ground up chicken had been artificially glued together by some heating process. Then the sauce hit my taste buds. It was a ketchup-molasses spicy mess. It left a too-spicy hit on the tongue and stuck to my throat like phlegm, refusing to give way to any other dominate flavor.
I finished the chicken and dug into the “rib shaped pork patty” next. Dare I say it was better than the chicken? There were more than 30 ingredients in this item. Some of the more interesting ones: “vinegar solids”, “caramel color”, “Autolyzed Yeast Extract”, “Grill flavor (from soybean oil)”, “isolated oat product”, “eggs”, and “Worcestershire sauce solids”. It’s been a while since I had a McRib, but I don’t think this would win out in a side by side contest. I was still hungry and I ate it though, refusing the urge to dip it into the extra sauce that was floating around.
With the meat down, I turned to the “sweet corn”. I guess I’m not familiar with the variants of corn. The corn here tasted like plain canned corn, except with a flash frozen/thawed/microwaved tinge added to it.
I gazed at the “home-style” potatoes. I’ve had a lot of potatoes, and have had a lot of home-made mashed potatoes. This was a lie. “Reconstituted potatoes” and “dried dairy blend” never qualify as home style. Not even as trailer-home style. Even on the front cover of the box the other items were represented in a likeness close enough to believe but the mashed potatoes looked like home mashed lumps of love. They looked beautiful, as if they were truly hand mashed. The reality was like waking up to the smell of bacon frying and then being served Tofu bacon. The potatoes are a lie.
The last 2.5 minutes in the microwave had transformed the brownie. No longer a liquid, it actually qualified as a brownie. Not that it was a particularly good brownie, but it at least removed some of the sting of the sauce. I was a hungry man, but this meal left me wanting for something else. I’ll try another option from the grocery aisles next time, maybe Banquet makes a BBQ plate.
- Capt Bryan