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Taste test: Pot roast seasoning mixes

Years ago, when a friend had emergency surgery, she was overwhelmed with dinners brought over from caring neighbors who wanted to help. She also was overwhelmed with Italian meals. Everybody made lasagne, spaghetti or some type of pasta bake. It's true, those meals are easy to heat and they feed a crowd. But my new go-to dinner to deliver is pot roast. I follow directions I learned in one of my very first cooking classes, and it always produces a perfect roast flanked by vegetables. Lately, though, we have been noticing a lot of prepared seasonings for pot roast in grocery stores. We found three liquid seasoning pouches and one dry blend that required added water. We tried all four on chuck roasts and vegetables, according to package directions, and cooked them in our slow cookers overnight. These might even be easier than my dependable cooking school recipe.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


Pot Roast


Slow Cooker

Tavern Style

Pot Roast Sauce
Crock Pot Roast Seasoning Red Fork

Pot Roast Sauce

Judges said this pot roast looked and tasted very homemade. They liked the tender texture of the meat and the potatoes. "It has a very traditional pot roast flavor with mild herbs," said one judge. Another described the pot roast seasonings as "robust, gravy-ish, smooth and full-bodied." One panelist complained the sauce was a bit thin. Another said it was too salty for her taste.The soup-maker's pot roast seasonings were a bit disappointing to our tasters. They liked the rich, red, tomatoey look of the gravy but said it lacked seasonings — even salt. "Where's the flavor?" asked one. Another said the dish had "zero personality" and was too greasy. "Washed-out" was how one panelist described the flavor.The beef in this dish did a good job of picking up the subtle herb flavors in the seasoning packet. "It looks rich and thick and has a perfect sauce-to-meat ratio," said one panelist. Another said it wasn't as rustic as some of the other sauces sampled but the flavors were more aggressive. "The oregano dominates this," said one taster, adding, "It's a little sweet, too.""There's not a lot of liquid in this dish, but it has a beautiful, intense flavor," said one judge. "It tastes very homemade." Another said, "It's delicate, yet subtle and clings to the pot roast beautifully." The meat and the vegetables in this roast dinner had a rich flavor that absorbed most of the sauce. "I like this sauce because it isn't salty," said a judge who would buy the brand. "It's very savory and not too sweet," said another.

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.09 for a 9-ounce pouch from Publix. $2.89 for a 13-ounce pouch from Winn-Dixie.$1.99 for a 1.5-ounce packet from Publix. $2.50 for an 8-ounce pouch from the Fresh Market.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeTwo tablespoonsOne-fourth cupTwo teaspoonsEight ounces
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g2.5g / 0g0g / 0g0.5g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium1g / 410mg3g / 580mg0g / 460mg2g / 560mg
Carbs/Protein4g / 0g6g / 1g2g / 0g6g / 2g

Taste test: Pot roast seasoning mixes 11/07/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2016 1:47pm]
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