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We've beaten up on evol Foods pretty extensively. In our last review of their products, I described them as that unreliable friend from grammar school who's always getting into trouble but has those flashes of brilliance that make you go out to play with them even though you know you shouldn't. That time we were reviewing two bowls, the Lean & Fit Fire Grilled Chicken Poblano and their Sriracha Chicken. Both were meals you could just as easily make at home for far less per serving. "Sadly, our old friend lets us down again. None of that fiery goodness of the evol we used to know and love."
We wouldn't be reviewing anything from evol except that today's burritos came in by way of one of our panelists. You see, these "Big Burritos" are far bigger than anything we'd be recommending that people eat for lunch - and that's the main reason we do reviews: so that people can choose something healthier than fast food for lunch. Both burritos we're reviewing today are a big 600 calories - that's easily close to twice the number of calories in one of our more usual lunch meals. Compared to those same meals with fewer calories, however, they do have less sodium per calorie: the Sriracha Chicken has 630 milligrams of sodium - almost a 1:1 ratio of sodium to calories - while the Steak has 710 (about .85:1 ratio of sodium to calories. Many of our meals are about 300 calories and will have 600 or so milligrams of sodium, which is a 2:1 ratio of sodium to calories - so in that sense these burritos are ahead of the numbers game.
Numbers are all very well: how do they taste? Is our unreliable grammar school friend playing another game with us?
The instructions for both burritos call for being "loosely wrapped" in a paper towel and microwaved on a plate for 2:30, turned over, cooked for another 2:00, then sitting for 1 minute. When we review burritos, the question is always: does it explode, split, or become otherwise not something you can eat in one hand ("seeing as how that's the point of a burrito, right?" noted a panelist)?
We were pleasantly surprised to see that the Sriracha Chicken Burrito might have a little bit of a blowout at the seam where the tortilla is wrapped around the burrito, but nothing serious: we could have picked up this burrito if we'd wanted. (Because we're sharing we use knives and forks.) The scent is that of sriracha, jalapenos, and lime, and when we cut the burrito in half we could see corn, a few black beans, and bits of shredded chicken in a medium of white rice and melted cheddar.
What you taste in the first bite is as follows, "In this order," dictated a panelist: "Sriracha, chicken, tomato, corn, and maybe a hint of black bean." The spice level in this burrito was described as "moderate" by those members of the panel who really like their food spicy, while others found it "medium to hot." Overall, however, the spice level was judged to be well balanced with the other flavors: "You can taste all the elements even though they're spicy." With the caveat that this is really a splurge dinner meal, we give the Srirach Chicken Big Burrito a (surprised) thumbs up.
We approached the Spicy Steak Burrito with some apprehension due to its higher level of sodium. Then we read the ingredients, which has as the first ingredient, "Grilled seasoned beef and binder steak strips (beef, water, potato starch, sea salt, natural flavoring, spice)." Your beef isn't just beef, it's "beef and binder." That does not bode well.
The same microwaving process this time yielded no blowouts at all - a clean, warm handful of burrito with a tortilla only a little tougher than what you'd get out of a taco truck. The difference is that along with the "beef and binder steak strips" you also have "chipotle pepper sauce concentrate" and "habanero pepper puree," which takes this from the Sriracha Chicken's 3-pepper heat to a 4 or 4.5-pepper heat.
The bits of steak are larger than those in the chicken burrito and have the chewy texture and beefy flavor of flank steak. There's corn that adds hits of sweetness, but there's a definite sodium burn that fights with the high level of spice. The panel declared that this burrito would certainly be "too spicy for some people," and added, "This one tastes in order like spice and salt, green bell pepper, and way back there: beef."
Those who really love spicy food (and don't need to worry about sodium content) might like it, but at least one panelist (one who truly enjoys spicy food) felt that they wouldn't have been able to consume the entire burrito alone - "The spice would eventually overwhelm everything," they said. The panel didn't feel that they could recommend this one. They wanted me to also note that both burritos should be eaten quickly, as the tortillas quickly cool and become "seriously leathery" to the point of "giving your jaw a workout."
Reviewed: November 10, 2017