Quorn's Naked Chik'n Cutlet
I was happy to see a new brand of alt-meat products, Quorn, pop-up in the freezer the last time I was at the store, but I wasn't holding much hope for their Naked Chik'n Cutlets. The last thing I want to see alt-meat companies do is create "naked" items. Chicken is hard enough to mimic, but when you don't have the all-important herb- and spice-infused breading to help you out, you're pretty much left with a flavorless slab of protein.
In the case of the Quorn's alt-chicken products, they use Mycoprotein.
According to Quorn's website:
"Myco" is Greek for "fungi." The mycoprotein comes from Fusarium venenatum, which was originally discovered growing in a field in Buckinghamshire, England. In the late 1960s, initial product development began, soon recognizing mycoprotein's potential as an efficient and nutritious protein source.
If the fact that these alt-chicken cutlets are made up of 51% "vat-grown mold" doesn't affect you, I'm guessing the way they were packaged might:
Here's a better look at the frozen cutlets:
I'll admit it bothers me to constantly have to throw out the plastic that all the alt-patties come in, but I accept it as a necessary evil - for freshness and safety. For Quorn to just throw the cutlets into a cardboard box to become freezer burned and suck up whatever bacteria is in the air is pretty stunning to say the least.
And if that still doesn't give you pause, here is a link to a page on the Center for Science in the Public Interest's website, describing the widespread allergic reactions that mycoprotein has had on Brittons:
Of course, it's my mission to review all alt-meat products that I can find, so forged ahead anyway and attempted to grill a Naken Chik'n Cutlet.
In the real world, it's pretty hard to grill frozen chicken cutlets. They don't lay flat like burgers do. And the instructions on the box didn't say to thaw the cutlets first, so I attempted to baste it in olive oil and grill it straight out of the box. It wasn't a huge success. No matter how much oil I brushed on, it just wasn't enough. The cutlet never softened, so I just continued to flip the rock-like cutlet until I assumed it was heated all the way through.
I slapped some alt-cheese on top, and oiled up the bun:
I wish I could say that, in the end, the taste of the cutlets offered some ray of hope. But alas, they tasted pretty much how they looked coming out of the box: dry and unappealing.
I guess the silver lining of the whole experience was that I didn't turn out to be one of the 4.5% who is allergic to mycoprotein. And I can say that these cutlets might actually be a decent meat substitute for meals requiring firm tofu, but only if they're basted or marinated with something tasty. On their own, they don't offer much in the way of flavor.
I may tempt fate once more and try grilling another cutlet with barbeque sauce, or I may just count my blessings that I didn't end up with violent diarrhea, numb lips, paralyzed limbs and a fever (all of which are actual symptoms reported in the CSPI article). I won't write Quorn completely off yet, but I may just ditch the other three cutlets and move on to the next Quorn product (which will hopefully be wrapped in some sort of plastic).