Taste & Tell

Speedy supermarket lamb shanks: which ready-to-cook version is king?

To help you buy the best, we put meaty dishes that can be cooked in under 30 minutes to the taste test

09 June 2019 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Nothing tops homemade lamb shanks, but you can't beat the supermarket version when it comes to convenience.
Nothing tops homemade lamb shanks, but you can't beat the supermarket version when it comes to convenience.
Image: 123RF/Brent Hofacker

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: PICK N PAY

Honey & balsamic lamb shanks

Price: 1kg for R199.99

What our tasters said:

  • Phetolo: Tasted more of the rosemary than the balsamic. Delicious and tender.
  • Jo: The tastiest of the three samples we tasted. Juicy, good sauce and more onions and carrots. Good value for money.
  • Brandon: This was my favourite, lots of veggies, very delicious.
Ready-to-cook lamb shanks from Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Checkers.
Ready-to-cook lamb shanks from Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Checkers.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

SECOND PLACE: WOOLWORTHS

Slow-cooked lamb shanks

Price: 1kg for R219.99

What our tasters said:

  • Dale: Very few veggies, quite a loose sauce with quite a bit of oil, but meat and gravy delicious.
  • Grant: Two good-looking shanks. Bit too oily but tastes delicious.
  • Robyn: Delicious meat but gravy very thin and far too oily. Needs salt.

THIRD PLACE: CHECKERS

Lamb shanks slow-cooked in BBQ sauce

Price: 1.2kg for R209.99

What our tasters said:

  • John: Not as tender as other samples, tastes average. For more flavour, could add more veggies like carrots and potatoes.
  • Grant: Little aroma and not a great taste. Didn't taste much like lamb. No BBQ taste at all.
  • Wynand: Appearance nice, aroma acceptable but I was disappointed with taste.

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