When I was told about McCain's latest creation - Ready Baked Jackets - and asked if I'd like to try them out, my first thought was hmmmm can you really get a proper jacket potato in just a few minutes ? I was hoping to be proved wrong but was a bit sceptical. I did have to admit that they have perfectly targetted their audience though.
Their explanation of the concept is something I can totally relate to. They say : "There’s nothing quite like the smell and taste of a slow oven-baked jacket potato, but the downside is waiting ages for it to cook. The rush of family life means we sometimes need meals to be ready in minutes, so getting dinner on the table quickly takes priority as hungry mouths just won’t wait. Research amongst parents, carried out by McCain, shows that jacket potatoes are a definite favourite with families - a massive 64% of those surveyed eat them up to four times a week. However, time pressures are a major factor as the average family meal Monday to Thursday takes just 29 minutes to prepare. The average time people take to cook their jacket, using oven, microwave or both, is 40 minutes, in fact more than a third of people take more than 50 minutes to cook their jacket. So although people love the delicious taste, comforting smell and fluff of a slow oven-baked jacket more than half say they are deterred from eating jacket potatoes more frequently as they take too long to cook so they’re often missed off teatime menus."
That's certainly true here. With this year's teaching timetable, I'm lucky enough to finish work at 3pm most days, which just gives me time to rush home on the bus and pick up the girls from school (and Pierre from the childminder who lives just opposite). Then it's just a quick walk home but by the time I've supervised homework, the kids are far too hungry (and Pierre is too tired) for me to cook anything that takes a long time.
If I'm being amazingly organised, I do like to throw a few big potatoes into the bottom of the oven when I cook the Sunday roast - not just because it's a quick meal that just needs reheating the next day but also because maximising the oven space is a great way of reducing energy bills and wastage. But most of the time I forget or there aren't any big spuds in the bag !
Time to try out the Ready Baked Jackets then. Well, when I grabbed the box out of the freezer and opened it, I was surprised to see that they look just like real baked potatoes, not some highly processed potato-like thing ! In fact, McCain just take top-quality British potatoes, cross-cut them, drizzle them with sunflower oil and slowly oven-bake them, without adding any junk like artificial additives. They explain : "McCain takes real, simple ingredients and prepares them with care using no artificial colours or flavours. This means that not only are jackets tasty and quick, they’re healthy too. For fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt Jackets receive a clean sweep of green traffic lights which indicates a low content according to Food Standard Agency guidelines."
But the all important question ? Are they light and fluffy like proper oven-baked jacket spuds ? And do they have a limp, soggy skin like microwaved jackets ? Well, I have to say, they're much better than I expected. You don't get the really crispy, chewy skin that you would in a proper oven but they are a lot fluffier and tastier than potatoes that have been cooked exclusively in a microwave. In fact, they remind me a lot of the baked potatoes you get in many restaurants. You should note that the five minutes cooking time is for one potato though so if you're cooking for the whole family, it will take longer.
My one gripe is that, at £1.29 for 400g, you're paying a lot of money for some simple potatoes but that's only the same as buying frozen chips really, and it does work out much cheaper than buying take-away baked potatoes from the high street shops. If you're unsure, you can profit from a money-back guarantee at the moment (and until the end of October 2012) where you can get a full-refund if you're unsatisfied with the product.
Research shows that Brits favour the classic jacket toppings with 29% of those surveyed choosing cheese & beans as a favourite and 25% cheese. But the joy of a jacket is that anything goes, so it’s easy to tailor them to your family’s preferences, keeping everyone happy at dinnertime. I'll be back in a second with a couple of recipe ideas in a separate blogpost if you need some inspiration.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £1.29 for 400g, £1.99 for 800g
for more information : http://www.mccain.co.uk/mccain-products/family-classics-made-easy/ready-baked-jackets/
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