Taste & Tell

Buy the best: we scored supermarkets' ready-to-cook stews out of 10

No time to slow-cook a hearty winter meal? No worries, supermarkets now sell mouthwatering beef and lamb stews that can be on the table in about 30 minutes. Here's which ones are well worth buying

09 June 2019 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Osso bucco pairs wonderfully well with polenta.
Osso bucco pairs wonderfully well with polenta.
Image: 123RF/Daniel Vincek

HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST

It's free and fair

We know that taste is a subjective thing and what’s good for one may not be for someone else. But it is interesting that, when a group of tasters come together, the results are usually consistent — there’s always a favourite and least-favoured item.

For this taste test, we invited a group of readers to attend a blind-tasting of supermarket convenience foods in Johannesburg. While we endeavour to rate the same items from each of the five big retailers, this is not always possible as not all of our local supermarkets carry similar products.

To ensure the taste test was free and fair, food expert Jenny Kaye was in the kitchen to supervise as products were removed from their packaging, numbered and cooked or reheated according to package instructions.

The tasters were presented the dishes “naked” which they rated on a score sheet. The products were judged on appearance, aroma, taste, value for money and whether the taster would buy it.

Auditor Jade Craig oversaw the entire process: she checked the products in the kitchen, sat in on the tasting, and collated the scores.

THE RESULTS

FIRST PLACE: CHECKERS

Ready-to-cook lamb potjie

Price: 800g for R149.99

Score: 7/10

What our tasters said:

  • Anna: Very few vegetables except potato and mashed carrot. Meat was well cooked and taste was average.
  • Robyn: Meat fell off the bone. Could have done with more salt and veg. Gravy nice and rich with good aroma.
  • Gavin: Really nice big chunks of meat with too few vegetables.
Ready-to-cook stews from Checkers, Pick n Pay and Woolworths.
Ready-to-cook stews from Checkers, Pick n Pay and Woolworths.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

SECOND PLACE: PICK N PAY

Spicy lamb stew

Price: 1kg for R189.99

Score: 6/10

What our tasters said:

  • Wynand: Lovely aroma, taste was acceptable, but it was very oily.
  • Brandon: The meat was nice and tender but it tasted bland, not spicy as description.
  • Errol: Very oily but enjoyed the flavour. Could have more veggies though. Meat was tender.

THIRD PLACE: WOOLWORTHS

Slow-cooked osso bucco beef shin in a rich meaty gravy

Price: 1kg for R169.99

Score: 5/10

What our tasters said:

  • Grant: Gravy too watery, no aroma, few vegetables and meat has a "boiled" consistency.
  • Boitumelo: No appealing, acidic taste and no aroma.
  • Gavin: A little bland. Athough the meat was very tender, it was insufficient. Very few carrots and potatoes.

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