Thursday, April 1, 2021

Eat! Homestyle Kickin' Chicken Alfredo (Dollar Tree)

Run far, far away.

Dollar Tree is honestly the worst place in the world to realize that you're hungry. There are some good options, but not that many...and even a majority of the “best”, or most filling options are, well, not all that great. It was with this mindset that I decided to try Kickin' Chicken Alfredo, an addition to their “Eat! Homestyle” line that I had not seen before.

To be perfectly frank, I didn't really have high hopes for this, even from the outset. Alfredo is a delicious, decadent sauce that just doesn't seem to be replicated well in any frozen product, much less one that has to be sold for a dollar (which means it has to be manufactured for even less than that). The main reason, is that a vast majority of them use half and half as a cheaper substitute for the “heavy whipping cream” typically found in real alfredo sauces...and Eat's version is no different. The half and half basically waters it down, which makes it much less thick, which then tends to “fall off” of noodles, rather than sticking to the noodles the way an alfredo sauce should. Plus, it's much less rich to begin with, usually leading to a bland-tasting sauce. And when you've got a dish with “Alfredo” in the name, it should not be bland.

Another strike? The chicken. Frozen meat products are always pretty creepy, and that creepiness certainly doesn't subside the lower you go into the bowels of the frozen food universe. Why do manufacturers always feel the need to put creepy meat products in anything, especially when a vast majority of them would be even better without them? I guess it's so people feel more full after eating them, or think they're getting more food for the price...whatever the reasoning, it doesn't seem to be much of a valid one.

Oh man...right out of the microwave and my stomach is starting to churn. One issue: egg noodles. Yeah, the picture on the front clearly shows you that you're not dealing with fettucine here, but once I saw just how yellow the noodles were, I knew this stood no chance. I like noodles, but for some reason, egg noodles just seem to be one of the worst in the pasta family. Now that I think about it, the main cause of my distaste is because that's what my mom used in her Beef Stroganoff recipe that she would occasionally subject me to growing up; even as a kid, I would eat anything...but that ruined Beef Stroganoff for me, for life. I still won't go near the stuff, and now I'm finding it also ruined egg noodles for me, as well.

But even for those who don't share my un-affinity for egg noodles, the smell is just...out of the microwave, this thing smells like a science experiment gone awry. It doesn't smell like a typical noodle dish, nor does it smell inviting. It smells like...depression...maybe with a hint of failure. There is nothing at all enticing about the scent, nor are there any notes that suggest there's anything edible in it at all. I don't even detect notes of Alfredo, or anything else...it's just bad. Whoa boy.

Yep...one second into my first bite, and that's when I realize this is even worse than I expected. How did this make it through a test kitchen? Was there even a test kitchen? I'm going to have to lean towards “no”...this recipe tastes like it was improvised by some hot-shot chef who was so confident in the recipe that he didn't even bother to try it himself. It doesn't taste like Alfredo at all; it's just...gross. And, on top of having that terrible egg noodle flavor, they're also incredibly slimy, which also tends to be incredibly off-putting.

Sadly, the chicken is the star of the show here. It's spongy, as expected, but actually packs in some chicken-like flavor, which isn't always the case with frozen chicken. One thing that is alarming, though: it's juicy. Very, very juicy. Like you just chomped down on a sponge full of water. I guess they were trying to make it seem “fresher”, but it honestly has the exact opposite effect (you just picture someone in a factory with a syringe labeled “chicken flavoring” injecting each piece as they travel down a conveyor belt). Still, as weird as the whole liquid thing is, it still does manage to be the best part of the dish.

Oh, along with the “spice”...there is a good amount of heat here. I'd say just the right amount, actually: it's not an overly-spicy dish at all, but considering nothing about the pasta or sauce tastes like it should, I'd say having something that wasn't falsely advertised in the title is a small win of sorts.

Overall: 1.5/10. Oh man...where do I even begin? It smells like a failed science experiment, and even tastes kinda like one, with nothing that insinuates “Alfredo” coming through in either the slimy egg noodles, or brownish gravy-like sauce. In fact, the main redeeming quality is the chicken, which is spongy and overly juicy (every bit as creepy as it sounds), yet at least tastes like what chicken should taste like. I don't want to know how, or why, but I'm kind of thankful that it does. The “kickin'” part in the title is also well-earned, with a nice hint of spice that...well, “kicks” your tastebuds from the cacophony of other disgusting flavors. Reviews are typically suggestive, but short of dogs, I honestly can't understand how something like this could be happily eaten by anyone.


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