Picholine and Artisanal chef Terrance Brennan, working with FreshDirect, has reinvented the microwave meal. Or so we were told earlier this week. Apparently, the ingredients in his glorified TV dinners come raw or semi-cooked, and a release valve in the box allows the container to work as a pressure cooker, making the meal from scratch in about three minutes. Skeptical but intrigued — and inspired by a similar experiment by the Gobbler — we opted out of having lunch delivered to our desk yesterday and instead joined other Grub Street staffers in the kitchenette to sample six of the eight varieties. The best were better than many restaurant dishes; the average ones were an order of magnitude more enjoyable than any "frozen dinners" we'd ever eaten before; and the worst were terrible. (FreshDirect plans to develop more lines with other high-profile New York chefs.)
Moroccan-spiced salmon over pumpkin-date couscous with preserved lemon: The flavors are clear and intense, the dish looked good, and the juicy salmon is perfectly medium-rare, even on its thinnest edge.
The winter-squash ravioli with autumn vegetables is buttery and earthy, a function of starting with fresh raw or half-roasted vegetables, in particular thick mushrooms. Boneless rack of lamb, though a little rare, is rich and vivid, and the orzo ratatouille with goat cheese a lush accompaniment. Shrimp and tomatoes with pesto over linguini tastes better than it looks — the shrimp come out perfectly firm, and the pesto gets absorbed into the pasta.
Shrimp romesco with chorizo and saffron paella rice: The flavors, the texture, the aftertaste — all gnarly. It's closer to chorizo pudding than paella. But there's a good chance it was overcooked.
FreshDirect and Chef Terrance Brennan's Exclusive New Menu Offers "Fine Dining in Four Minutes" [Market Wire]