Recently Charlie Bigham’s got in touch and asked if I’d like to try out some of their meals. I popped along to our local Waitrose where they have a good selection, but you can get them at a range of different supermarkets. You’ll find them in the chilled aisle and as soon as you see them on the shelf you realise they are a cut above the average ready meal. Another thing I liked about them is that you buy a meal for two rather than having to buy separate meals for each person (although they do also make meals for one).
Charlie Bigham’s meals are created for foodies by foodies and are made with the same level of attention to detail that you’d expect in a lovingly prepared home cooked meal created from scratch at home. The idea is that you can have the quality without all the work. The Fish Pie we tried was very similar to the ones I make myself with a fraction of the work for me: I just needed to prepare some vegetables to go with it. There’s a wide range of dishes available from some classic British favourites like Shepherd’s Pie, and a range of dishes from round the world. You can eat Italian with Lasagne; or Spanish with a Paella with Chicken, King Prawn and Chorizo; or Chinese with Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice. You can even pick out a pudding from the range to finish your meal off in style. How about Chocolate Fondant, Cherry Bakewell or Sticky Toffee Pudding?
We tried out a couple of dishes: the Fish Pie I mentioned earlier and one of their new range of curries Thai Green Curry. The advantage of the curry one is that it came with rice, although it was less rice than I normally serve for two people (this is something I always find with ready meals including rice, so if you like less carbs, you’ll probably find it right for you). The fish pie obviously needs to be served with vegetables. There is a reasonable helping of mashed potato on top of the pie, but I did some extra potatoes too.
Inside the Thai Green Curry pack there are two wooden trays containing the food and you can cook the dishes in them. There was some foil provided to go over the rice to stop it drying out. You can’t microwave the food as some of the recipe is made with raw ingredients. The trays stand the cooking remarkably well. Although one did show some minor scorch marks after use. I’ve reused mine as containers for harvesting veg in the garden, but I think seed trays would work well too. Once they are past their useful life, you can pop them in the garden waste or on the compost heap.
The Thai Green Curry certainly had a bit of kick and was spicy, yet fragrant too. You could tell that it was made with good quality, fresh ingredients and it was of comparable quality to a good home cooked meal. Obviously the cooking time means that the food isn’t ready instantly, but the dishes taste significantly better than that sort of ready meal. It’s not so long to wait anyway, if you pop the oven on as you soon as you come in the door, it should be up to temperature within a few minutes. Pop your dinner in and sit back with a cuppa or a glass of wine.
I loved the Fish Pie. It was very moreish and I’d be very much tempted to buy one again rather than get all the ingredients separately and spend a long time in the kitchen. I suspect I’d save money as well as time. I liked that it had a mix of fish including haddock and salmon which are amongst my favourites.