Chicken Piccata Boxed Dinner from Romano's Macaroni Grill
This is what the box I purchased looked like.
I love to order Chicken Piccata whenever I see it on the menu somewhere. So, when I saw the boxed version of this meal with the name of the restaurant (Romano's Macaroni Grill) on my grocery store shelf, I felt I had to try it. I admit that this time, my grocery store was the Wal*Mart SuperCenter in my town.
I was doubtful at first that this would live up to my expectations but I was willing to part with the few dollars for the box and try it once. My experience with most box dinners is that they do not measure up to the quality you would get if you cooked it yourself or ordered it at the restaurant, and are usually very salty, but more convenient.
Please note that this kit does not include the chicken, so if you buy it, make sure you either buy about a pound of uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts or have some already on hand.
The kit includes the Angel Hair Pasta, Chablis cooking wine, seasoned flour and piccata sauce seasoning. In addition to providing your own chicken, you also need 4 Tablespoons of butter and 2/3 cup hot water. To cook this, you need a 3 quart saucepan for the pasta and a 10-inch skillet to cook the chicken.
Total time from start to finish should be about 20 minutes, according to package directions, however, the biggest variable in that is how long the chicken takes to be cooked. If the breasts are thick or partially frozen, that will take additional time. Also, I would rather be sure the chicken is fully cooked before I eat it, so I added about 5 minutes to the final cooking time. Even so, I estimate it still took less than 30 minutes. One good thing about preparing this meal is that you can coat the chicken with the flour and start cooking it while waiting for the pasta's water to boil.
While my expectations were for the food to be salty, this was not the case. A serving contains 510 mg of sodium according to the package, but it somehow got past my tastebuds. Instead, I noticed a flavor very much on the sweet side and the sauce was for me too buttery. To correct this the next time, I intend to more thoroughly mix the seasoning when I sprinkle it on the chicken and use less butter. I might also cook more pasta as well since there seemed to be a lot of sauce for the amount of chicken and pasta. There was, however, the distinctive lemony taste that I always associate with Piccata. Since I was the only one eating this, there was enough to eat for lunch the next day and it did taste better then. The flavor was well balanced that time.
In the lower right hand corner of the box, there is something called a Chef Inspired Tip, which suggests using shrimp and capers instead of chicken. That sounds like a good alternative.
Overall the product met my expectations but did not exceed them. It is a convenient and less expensive alternative to dining out. If I make the few modifications I mentioned, it has the potential to exceed my original expectations. I will buy this product again to experiment with different ways of cooking and perhaps I will find what I feel is the right balance.
The last time I looked for this product, I was not able to find it. The company website, however, indicates that R M G sells frozen product, so I will try one of their frozen items to see how they compare with this.
It seems the trend is to go from something that was fairly easy and convenient to something that is even easier and more convenient.