This report is amazing! Thanks for such a thorough job, Beth.
Pace Picante Chicken vs. Chicken A La King
Here is the matchup. Points are awarded in each of the categories shown below and combined for a final score. 5 points – outstanding, 3 points – so-so, 1 point – why bother.
Flavor: (Pace 5, King 4) Tasters liked both dishes, with Pace tasting “healthier” and “fresher”. King was “creamier” and the sauce was rated “slightly better” than Pace.
Preparation: (Pace 5, King 2) Pace was the hands-down winner of this category. Put frozen chicken in crockpot, pour sauce over, turn on, wait 4.5 hours, eat! A definite slam dunk. King required cutting, chopping, mixing, pouring, stirring, all before the crockpot was turned on. NOT a “fix in 20 minutes before I leave for work” kind of meal.
Value: (Pace 5, King 2) Again, Pace was a hands-down winner, costing just under $9.00 for four – six generous servings. King was almost three times as much, costing over $20.00 for eight servings. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for both dishes. My local grocery has these on sale @ $1.99/lb. about every three weeks, so I buy on sale and keep them in my freezer. Sadly, Pace Picante Sauce is no longer available in my market (NYC) so I substituted another brand. I didn’t factor in the cost of milk, mustard, or brown sugar since I always have these items on hand.
Final Score: (Pace 15, King 8) I would make both dishes again, though I will adapt the Chicken A La King recipe, cutting it in half and making it as a stir-fry type meal, not a crock pot meal. I really, really liked the Pace Picante Chicken, though my version – Trader Joe’s Chipotle Chicken – more accurately represents the final dish. I have eaten Pace Picante Sauce many times and just wish it were still available here in NYC.
Note: In my Rival Crock Pot, the Pace Picante chicken was completely cooked through, on low temp, in 4.5 hours. This does not work for all-day cooking – a drawback for a workday meal. On the other hand, the Chicken A La King required the better part of an hour to prepare, and used several bowls, appliances, etc. just to get the ingredients ready to put into the crock pot. If you prep the night before, you could “dump and go” in the morning and have a nice, hot meal waiting for you at the end of the day. Chicken A La King needed 7.5 hours cooking time on low temp for the carrots to be done enough (and I cut them in half to make everything more uniform in size).
Note 2: In the King dish, I used “light” Alfredo sauce and skim milk rather than the full fat versions. I don’t think this affected the flavor at all, but the sauce was thinner than I had expected.
I really enjoyed this experience, and would love to participate in future rounds!