I can still remember a time when Mexican restaurants were a bit of a scarcity and often people would confuse fast food establishments such as Taco Bell with fine south of the border cuisine. Now, in most cities I have visited, these restaurants have become a bit of a staple. Taquerias, little cantinas and taco trucks are ubiquitous. In many places, there are several taco shops on every other block.
But what if you don't feel like going out to eat? What if you are on a budget or feel like sitting in front of the television while you munch? Or maybe you want to cook up a unique banquet for your family or guests but don't want to spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen?
Thank goodness for fast food.
El Monterey has several samples available. From frozen burritos, taquitos to full course dinners like in the photo above.
How well does a more complicated sample such as an enchilada measure up?
Well, lets find out.
Look at the label
Well, one of the things I always recommend, and have been told, is to try to be a conscientious consumer. You are what you eat and if you put bad stuff into your body, you are going to feel bad. Junk in, junk out - well I guess I better be cautious of how I word that.
When you look at this label, you can see that calories is purposely done in larger font, boldface. Why is this? Because that is the one content that many people are going to be immediately concerned with. Looking at this label, you can see that the meal contains over 500 calories. 2000 is the recommended daily allowance for the average adult. So 1/4 of the daily caloric intake from one meal shouldn't really seem that overwhelming.
But, when you see the fats, cholesterol and sodium you might want to take a step back. 21 grams of protein? Well that is pretty good actually.
Now you can be selective - as I chose to do - and take out the main portions - such as the veggies and the enchilada rolls themselves.
When you look at the other photos, you will see that there are "sauces" which seem to mostly consist of sour cream.
Not my favorite.
As you can see from the photo above, this plate looks pretty chock full of some white stuff. Originally I thought this was a sauce of some sort, but it seems to be a sour cream mix of something. Technically, I guess this is a sauce, but I anticipated something more tomato or tomatillo based. Something more traditional.
I have to confess it gave off a strange aroma which in no way reminded me of a visit to a Mexican restaurant. I wasn't too sure about the pristine white color with the tiny bits of cheese on top. It lacked aesthetic appeal to me.
But to each their own. you can look at the photo above and compare it to the image on the box cover.
Do you see any resemblance?
The enchiladas were mainly what interested me. When I saw the chucks of chicken poking out the the tortillas I thought, ay caramba *this is a Spanish exclamation of surprise), looks good. Muy bueno (this means very good). This was when i saw the photo on the cover
But when I cooked it up and carefully removed the samples from the white gunk they were embedded in, I decided to do some investigation.
I actually had to cut the slender samples in half to discover any chicken.
They were not visible initially so I had to bring out my trusty knife and do some slicing.
The Sauce and Sides
After cutting the small rolled tortillas in half, I took a peak inside, and didn't see much.
I saw what looked like cheese whiz and some orange colored liquid that appeared to be the sauce I expected my enchiladas to be in.
The tortillas were soft and came out pretty good actually. They did not taste overly processed like some of the store bought varieties I have encountered.
The rice - wasn't a typically Mexican rice. Maybe more Spanish actually. It was yellow and had a bit of a spice in it that made me think of a more Mediterranean style dish. There were black beans in it as well, which did not make sense to me because most dishes that have a Mexican-American slant come with refried beans of some sort.
With some coaxing
Where's the meat?
I had to do a little shake rattle and rolling, but I managed to discover that there were slices of chicken - slivers actually - in the sample.
You can see that it vaguely bears a resemblance to the cover photo. (Not sure why i keep referring to the professional photo because I already know that advertising and authenticity are in no way compatible).
But in all due fairness, the interior of the meal did resemble the photo in color.
As far as taste is concerned...?
Well I was always told that if you cannot say anything nice, keep your mouth shut. So I'll just let you know that this is about as far as I got.
I did try a few bites but I did not hear any Mariachi music.
Not quite sure what the actually background (culinary and cultural) is of the creators of this frozen concoction is or are, but I believe they were more interested in trying to make money rather than satisfy the palate of hungry diners looking for a new option.
Overall, for a variety of reasons, I would probably pass on these.
But then again, I am honestly, a picky eater.
El Montery Regional Headquarters building in Texas
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