Sunday, April 24, 2016

Specially Selected Pancetta & Parmesan Kettle Chips (Aldi)


One thing that I’ve learned in my lifetime is that it’s probably a good idea to avoid potato chips that are flavored after a meat.  There’s just no accurate way to really translate the flavor of, say, bacon, onto a piece of fried potato.  At their best, meat-flavored potato chips generally omit the titular meat entirely, such as with buffalo wing chips, which merely taste like chips covered in buffalo powder, without a hint of meat.  Ditto that for the hot dog chips I tried, which merely tasted like a mess of condiments.

With that in mind, I was actually against trying these at all, but inspiration came from an unlikely source: my vegetarian wife.  She reasoned that pancetta is a lighter-flavored meat (she went vegetarian about a year ago, so has tried just about all of them at one point or another), and she was convinced that flavor could, conceivably, be somewhat accurately replicated in chip form.

Even after eating them, I’m not sure if she’s right or not, because this successfully follows the aforementioned rule of pretty much omitting the meat flavor entirely.  As I ate more and more of these, a subtle aftertaste seemed to emerge that suggested the pancetta, via a lightly smoky flavor, but it exists more in the background, rather than a marquee flavor.  And trust me, I’m not really complaining about that, because that means that the spotlight belongs to the parmesan, which is much easier to translate to chip form.

And they do a good job of it here, because these chips are pretty good.  The parmesan flavor is fairly strong (which I like), and each chip is given a generous coating of the stuff to ensure just about every bite is even in taste.  They aren’t so good that they’re anywhere near “addicting”, but on the other hand, that’s kind of a good thing considering potato chips aren’t really all that healthy for you.

The one bit of confusion I have is why these are under the Specially Selected label, which is generally reserved, at least I thought, for more “upscale” offerings, rather than under the Clancy’s line, used for chips and snacks.  There’s really nothing here that seems to suggest anything fancy, and even the price, which is $1.79 per bag, is in line with the other chips that Clancy offers.  Maybe by giving it “fancier” packaging they’re hoping to appeal to a certain crowd, but I can’t think that there are droves of meat-lovers craving pancetta on a chip.

This is more of a stray observation than a knock, because these chips are good, and affordable, no matter what label they put them under. I would get these again, and for those that don’t mind the meat-on-a-chip aspect that I’ve more or less been harping about, they are recommended.

Overall: 7/10.  A delicious chip that mainly ignores the pancetta, focusing instead on delivering the parmesan in droves, a task that it accomplishes.  The pancetta does sneak up on you the more you snack on them—the first few chips for me tasted like clear parmesan, until I started noticing a little smokiness entering into the tastebuds—but it doesn’t do much to detract from the overall flavor.  Maybe best of all: a bag is just $1.79, which is pretty good for a “premium” bag of chips, and much cheaper than even plain potato chips of the national brand.  They aren’t so great so as to be addicting, and I won’t say that I’ll ever crave them in between Special Buy cycles, but I would pick these up again at some point in the future.

4 comments:

  1. My husband and think the Specially Selected Panccetta and Parmesan chips are fantastic! We first tasted them at a friend's house. We found she had purchased them at our local Aldi's. After buying them there several times, we are disappointed because we haven't been able to find them at any store!

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    1. I agree that they are good! However, do not blindly let this lead to an immediate acceptance of any Specially Selected chip...their black truffle and olive oil chips taste like feet.

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    2. NO THE PANCETTA & PARMESAN ARE THE BEST CHIPS I HAVE EVERY HAD NEED TO NOW WHERE ELSE TO BUY THEM

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    3. Unlike many of Aldi's products, this one doesn't appear to be a knockoff of any kind, so it seems to be one of the rare instances of an Aldi original product.

      As such, that means it's officially available nowhere else between special buy cycles, at least as far as I know. You might want to check eBay or Amazon as off-cycle Aldi buys sometimes crop up there, but chances are they will be very expensive. Other than that, I guess waiting patiently is the only other option!

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