Let’s just jump right in to my first Hello Fresh review. I subscribed last week and my first box arrived today with 3 meals. I decided to start with the pork chops and mushroom gravy – mostly because I already have a really great pork chop and mushroom gravy recipe that I like and I wanted something I could compare to.
Right off the bat, I like the way the ingredients come packaged. I’ve used other meal kit services and have had issues with the amount of packaging used. Hello Fresh groups all the non-meat ingredients for each recipe into a little, recyclable cardboard box and eliminates a lot of the plastic wrap I’ve gotten with other services.
When unpacked, here’s what was in the box. There’s actually less packaging there than if I had bought all of these items individually at the grocery store. Already that’s a big win in my book.
Each dish also comes with a recipe card, complete with pictures of the various stages. I read through it once and then only glanced at it occasionally as I cooked, but it is nicely detailed for a new cook or someone who wasn’t comfortable “winging it” with a recipe. There are also little tidbits on the card: a wine pairing link, a tip or trick (this one was to not peel the potatoes first to preserve the nutritional value), and a list of the utensils (pots, pans, misc.) that you’ll need to complete the recipe.
On the other side of the card is a full sized photo of the finished dish, timing, calorie count, and a review of the items you should have received to make the recipe.
I started out getting the potatoes and Brussels sprouts ready. The package included some HUGE sprouts, so I cut them into quarters instead of the instructed halves. My sprouts and potatoes cooked perfectly in the recipe’s suggested 25 mins but had I cut the sprouts in half they’d have been underdone. Just something to keep in mind. The recipe could have mentioned to make sure that your wedges of potato and your pieces of Brussels sprout were similar in size to avoid this possibility.
While the sides were baking, I seasoned and pan fried the pork chops …
… and made the mushroom and shallot gravy. Now here’s where I deviated from the recipe a bit. The ingredients didn’t include any garlic and, well, I’m pretty much incapable of making a savoury dish without garlic. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t add some, so I minced 2 cloves of garlic and added them to the shallots and mushrooms while they were sauteing.
I also added a scant teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the sauce at the same time I added the sour cream the recipe called for.
The potatoes and sprouts finished right at 25 mins and I took them out of the oven. The sauce was still reducing a bit, so I had a minute to take a photo of the potatoes and crispy bits of Brussels sprout. The potatoes were done through, but only lightly browned, even on the sides touching the foil. Next time I’ll start the potatoes about 5-8 mins before the sprouts, then mix the sprouts in and cook it for another 25 mins – for a total of about 30-33 mins for everything.
Once the sauce had thickened up a little, I mixed in the parsley, plated everything, and served it.
Final Notes & Thoughts
Ease of cooking: I thought this recipe was quick and easy to follow and made a very tasty dish. Clearly I tweaked a few things based on my personal cooking experience and preferences, but I think even without those changes it would have been good. Prep time took exactly as long as they said it would and required only some simple slicing of ingredients.
Portion size: The portion size was good for two people, but not generous. As Kevin pointed out he was fine with what he had but once he gets back into kickboxing it might not be enough for him – both from a hunger and a nutrition standpoint (an active 6′, 200 lb guy can and should eat more than 600 calories for dinner!). However this could also be offset by fixing a large green salad with all the goodies as an additional side. So that’s an option for active people who need more calories and nutrition. Clearly, there were no leftovers at all.
Quality of food: The food quality was really really good. My quibble is more personal preference than anything. I prefer a leaner piece of pork and a slightly thicker cut. I wound up slightly overcooking my chop because it was thinner than I’m used to. I also wound up cutting off quite a bit of pork fat from my chop. I still had enough to eat, but it felt wasteful to me.
Quantity of ingredients: My only real criticism is here. The shallot they included was HUGE and so in comparison to the number of mushrooms, it made the sauce very much a shallot-and-mushroom-sauce as opposed to a mushroom sauce flavored with shallots. I would have liked more mushroom and less shallot overall. And garlic. Every mushroom gravy needs a little garlic. Everything else was spot on.
Overall: The pork chops were good quality and flavorful. All of the vegetables were super fresh and blemish free. And as I mentioned, the sprouts and the shallot were huge! The gravy was a little sweeter than I expected, especially given the addition of the mustard, which leads me to believe there was some sugar in the concentrated vegetable stock that was included. I don’t know for sure because there wasn’t an ingredient list for that item. Even so … a solid A-grade for the first recipe. We both enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to trying the next two recipes.
Recipe: Here’s the link to the recipe on the Hello Fresh website if you want to try to make it yourself: Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops
Next up … beef stir fry and walnut crusted chicken breast!
If you want to try Hello Fresh yourself, you can use this invitation link and get $40 off of your first box. Full disclosure; I get a $20 credit, too. Try Hello Fresh Now