Wiltshire Farm Foods – First Review…

I wrote this, read it, thought about it, read it again – and thought “Am I being too hard on this dish?”

On balance, I don’t believe so.

As I said in this post, I decided to switch to ready meals because cooking is becoming more of a challenge and, as I have very little appetite these days, barely worth the effort as a lot of food is wasted, thrown away uneaten. There seem to be two major players in the ready-meal delivery field who deliver nationally, WFF and Oakhouse foods. I decided to try WFF first.

They do standard meals, along with mini and hearty versions, so I got a week’s worth of a mixed bag of standard and hearty and, tonight, I had the Hearty Cumberland Pinwheel Sausage (£3.95).

First impression was that the picture is misleading. I got far less sausage for a start, and the wholegrain mustard mash had not the slightest suggestion of wholegrain or mustard.

The plump, golden-skinned sausage pictured was, in reality, a pallid, skinny thing, with a pallid, skinny taste to match and no discernible texture. God knows what the casing was made of, but it was nothing I’ve ever encountered. Allegedly it’s a sheep’s gut casing. It was uncooked if that’s true.

Now I confess, I can be a bit hard on sausages, which, inevitably get compared to my own, a comparison this one failed miserably. Frankly, it was an insult to Cumberland, or would be if it still existed. The genuine Cumberland sausage is all meat, just coarsely-minced pork, up to 98% meat, plus spices and seasoning (sometimes made with rusk if the maker isn’t claiming PGI status). What I ate was a mere 67% pork plus rusk, pork rind, rusk, and soya protein in unspecified amounts.

I’ve just noticed that the website actually lists ingredients, which I’d missed earlier as I hadn’t scrolled down far enough – it’s below the reviews so I didn’t think to go past them. I will in future.

The mash, to its credit, appeared to be made from real potato,** though a little butter wouldn’t have hurt*** (I spooned most of the onion gravy – which was pretty good – over the mash to lubricate it.

**Though seeing it contained modified potato starch rather changed that view.

***Not the palm fat it actually got! I mean, WTF – palm fat?

The peas were wizened, overcooked, little things, not the large, plump, specimens in the pic. This is a situation that calls for Marrowfat peas, more robust than garden peas.

I think the extraordinarily long microwave time – 14 minutes – was to cook the sausage. Did the peas and mash no favours – sausage should have been fried first and just reheated.

It occurs to me that I should have taken a photograph – I’ll bear that in mind next time.

So, OK, not as depicted or described, but tasty enough and was polished off in short order. Frankly, I could have polished off two of them, it being decidedly on the small side. God knows what the normal meals are like if this was “hearty”. The catalogue claims it weighed 520g, which I seriously doubt. The one pictured might well, but not the one I ate.

Interestingly, one of the few reviews – and the only comprehensible one – also complained about the size, and the sausage.

5 thoughts on “Wiltshire Farm Foods – First Review…

  1. I do feel for you Ron. I made the move to delivered ready meals last year, but courtesy of Tesco’s online shopping, as the choice was greater and the price less. They also carried the stuff up to my first floor kitchen very willingly. When you’ve made your own pies and pasties, rich dumpling casseroles, rustic apple tarts and strawberry pavlovas, boy do you land with a bump in the world of the ready meal. Palm fat and potato starch indeed. Still, you gotta eat, and at the end of the day, it is some kind of food. Good luck.

    • Luckily, I only got a week’s worth, not a month’s! Oakhouse Foods http://www.oakhousefoods.co.uk/ use better ingredients (butter in the mash, for example), so I’ll try them next. I do think, though, that on the websites and in catalogues, they should have to state the size of the plates used in photographs.

      I’m washing and keeping the trays the meals come in so, if all else fails, I can batch-cook my own meals. And if I make, say, beef in gravy, with potatoes and peas, then the peas will cook better in the gravy, not in with the spuds with no liquid. Not rocket science and it’ll make a big difference to the quality.

      A couple of years ago I tried ready meals from Sainsbury’s and, to be honest, they were tolerable. Tesco, currently, do some very good meals, but they’re spoilt by poor quality control, like unsealed film lids or, in one instance, leeks cut in huge chunks, instead of sliced, so they don’t cook

  2. well i have been trying Oakhouse this week. mostly mini meals as i too eat small amounts mostly. little and a bit more often is me. although the pies both beef and chicken, i thoroughly enjoyed and the chips are almost like home made the meal really is very mini. next time ill go for the standard ones. mini sausage and mash in gravy. wasn’t happy with the little sausages. far too solid. and not that nice texture-wise. edible mostly. but not something i would buy again. i have some other sizes of sausage n mash in the freezer to try next. their all day breakfast wasn’t bad at all. the omelette was more than twice the size of the WFF one. got 3 cherry tomatoes which when cooked ,cooked down to almost nothing but skin. (you dont get tomato in the WFF ones at all though) 1 sausage which wasnt bad, normal size, you get 2 in the WFF one., 3 mushrooms as in the WFF one. about 4 small rashers of bacon which was very nice and lean but all stuck together. you get a very small piece in the WFF one. would buy this meal again.
    so far Oakhouse are beating WFF in my estimation though the mini meals could do to be a tad bigger.oh yes. cauliflower cheese that was yummy. though the sauce was pretty runny it was still creamy and you could taste the cheese in it, i use some of those McCain french fries you can do in the microwave that come in a box.you put the whole box in the m/wave to cook. very nice.
    i got 2 weeks worth as its Free delivery on all orders over £30. whereas WFF meals are all delivered free whether you order 1 or 101. (just had a look and its only £1 delivery if you want to order less than the £30 worth. i hadn’t noticed that when i ordered. never mind we are learning all the time.lol.
    oh and i too keep some of the trays. especially the oval or round smaller ones. (have limited space otherwise would keep more). they are handy for all sorts of uses. i keep just 3 that had puddings in. small oblongs that i use to put used teabags in. once full they are thrown onto the rockery or under the bushes in front garden.

      • looks good. a bit to fatty fr my liking admitted.i only ever eat lean bacon these days but thats because i got into that habit after coming out of hosp 5 years ago.when i was told i needed to eat healthier and go on a low fat low salt diet. i dont mind the taste of bacon fat though so have always used it over the breast of chicken or turkey and to roll chipolatas in at christmas. but then again anything goes as long as your body allows it at that time of year.lol (just remembered i have some frozen sausages in bacon in the freezer,maybe ill cook those and use them as snacks now)

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