When Keystone Meats asked us to review a sample of their products, we were skeptical. Because, yes, it sounds funny to a foodie to think in terms of using canned protein (well, except tuna), but we took a chance and were pleasantly surprised.
Keystone makes and sells all-natural chicken and beef (and more) in cans that come in 14.5 ounces or 28 ounces, and we were impressed to see that the only ingredients are beef or chicken and sea salt. Contrary to our fears, the chicken did not taste dry. It tasted more than satisfactory in the chicken fajitas recipe we selected – the one on the back of the can seemed like too much chicken and not enough vegetables for our preferences.
We season our chicken fajitas and peppers and onions with Greek low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream – works really well – and some salsa and fresh tomatoes. It was pretty darn good. And we only used two thirds of the can for four servings. So we’re talking about a lot of bang for your buck.
The recipe for quick and easy pot roast on the back of the beef can looks tasty and certainly easy. Using one of these instant-protein options could be a lifesaver for a busy person who’s starving and doesn’t want to order high-sodium takeout food. Because another nice thing about these canned meat products is the low sodium content – only 120 mg in a serving. Plus a serving of 2 ounces is only 70 calories for the beef and 60 for the chicken.
When you open the chicken there is a lot of liquid, and we started at first to pour it out. But then we realized it had to be juices from the the cooking process because the can says no water added. It also says no artificial ingredients and only minimally processed. So if you would be happy to have a reasonably priced, not-too-processed and tasty meat or chicken on hand, ready at any moment, without worrying about refrigerator or freezer space – handy, too, for camping or trekking – these Keystone canned meat products fit the bill pretty well. They make soup bases and canned broths, too. Review the entire product range online at Keystone Meats.
Meanwhile, Moore’s Marinades & Sauces makes a whole group of sauces you can use to spice up your cooking. They sent us a sample of their new Spicy Habanero Wing and Hot Sauce. When we used it as extra seasoning on the above chicken fajitas, it overpowered the multi-layered fajita spice combination. Yet its strongly tart, vinegary taste would be great on wings to zing the meat and cut through the fat. FYI, sometimes vinegar is the first ingredient in hot sauces, but in Moore’s Habanero it’s water first, peppers second and next come vinegar and salt.
Moore’s also has some recipes on their website that look worth trying. The Southwestern soup made with this Habanero sauce, for example, sounds good. Some of the recipes made with their Ranch sauce look particularly appealing. The marinades and sauces come in 16-ounce bottles and are available online and in select retail outlets like Walmart.
I loved the book so much—and was so impressed with his passion for food and his ability to express it—I thought I’d try imitating the guy’s habit. Tried using some of his favorite, the original Cholula brand, at a Mexican restaurant and wasn’t thrilled. I figured maybe I’d like a different flavor, so I bought a bottle of Cholula chipotle-flavored hot sauce. It’s still sitting half-used on my shelf after several years. Just didn’t like the flavor or the way it so markedly changed the taste of my dish.
Then I learned from a Bon Appetit recipe for Bloody Marys about another type of hot sauce known as sriracha. Found it at the store, liked what I tasted. Looked for more ideas for using it—found dozens posted online by heavy duty fans of the stuff. And then I tried a recipe that has made this bright red sauce that comes in a Christmas-green-nozzle-top bottle a staple in my kitchen.
Here’s the recipe: Buy some sriracha. Put some sour cream in a dish. Start stirring in sriracha until the cream turns a lovely light orange-ish color—the darker the color, the spicier the dip. Now dip something in it—sliced cucumbers, steamed green beans or cauliflower, celery sticks, Doritos, potato chips, almost anything your heart desires. If you like spicy, there’s no way you won’t agree this is a heavenly way to dip. I’ve since switched to using 2% Greek yogurt for the sour cream and now feel quite virtuous that I’m taking in protein, calcium and “live yogurt cultures” at the same time I’m chowing down joyfully for my tastebuds. Mix with salsa for a nice switch. Use it on sandwiches or dip plain chicken in it. In case you prefer more sophisticated uses, here are some other popular ways to use sriracha.
Now, the news is I’ve found another one I like a lot. It’s called Tabanero hot sauce (the name is a combination of habanero, as in peppers, and Tabasco, the little spot in Mexico that grows peppers so well). But this is definitely NOT your grandmother’s Tabasco sauce. Its recipe sounds more like a real sauce—with carrots and onions, key lime juice, agave nectar, as well as habanero peppers, garlic salt, grapefruit seed extract and salt—labeled as all natural ingredients. I tried the medium-to-hot variety and it wasn’t too spicy for me. I was actually dipping my finger in it and tasting it all by itself. It has a clean, fresh taste and tastes like food.
And guess what? There’s no vinegar in it. I’ve just conducted a completely unscientific taste test with Tabanero, Cholula and sriracha. I now realize that part of why I don’t like the Cholula is the heavy vinegary taste—even though I like the taste of vinegar on its own. And lo and behold, the ingredients in Tabasco, too, are precisely: vinegar, red peppers and salt. Sriracha does have some vinegar, but it’s listed as the fifth ingredient and doesn’t overwhelm the chili flavor.
Okay, there is room in my heart and in my kitchen for two favorite hot sauces. I will probably never buy another bottle of Cholula (though it comes in many flavors and is very popular with Mexican food) or Tabasco (sorry, guys). Tabanero will be my new go-to sauce for Bloody Marys, but it might also get a turn in the yogurt dip once in a while. I’ll probably alternate Tabanero and sriracha for spicing up regular dishes that need a kick.
You can find sriracha hot chili sauce in most grocery stores and even in Targets with grocery areas. Get your bottle of Tabanero hot sauce ASAP—at this moment there are no retail outlets in Chicago (did you know there are such things as specialty hot sauce stores??), but you can order online. Then spice it up for National Hot Sauce Day–and keep your mouth and heart warmed up the rest of the year.