I bought this at Dollar Tree as one of those "what the hell" purchases. Lynnafred and I were ther to buy some cheap holiday-themed paper dessert plates (which were out of stock) and on our way out Southgate Beef Stew caught my eye. Despite her protests - "Damn it, Dad, you and your crappy dollar store food!" - the label promised beef stew with textured vegetable protein added, and the ingredients panel seemed pretty straightforward: Water, beef, potatoes, carrots, TVP, modified food starch, tomato paste, dehydrated celery and onion, sugar, caramel powder, paprika, black pepper, celery seed. Nothing really outrageous there. My expectations were actually pretty low, so I wouldn't be very easy to disappoint, you know?
And therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by how decent Southgate Beef Stew is considering that it's a canned beef stew. Big hearty chunks of potato and a fair quantity of beef. Real beef in chunks of various size, and by "real" I mean that it isn't some sort of bastardized loaf product made of beef and TVP mixed up, cooked, and cut in blocks for the stew. The TVP was there, but separately, in little hamburger-like crumbles of their own, not trying at all to convince you that it was anything but crumbly TVP bits. The gravy was also good, too. Only a little hint of grease, not too salty with a beefy flavor and a hint of tomato and carrot, just like you'd get if you made your own.
All told, it was a pretty solid and satisfying lunch and a good deal for a buck.
Info and Link:
The Southgate brand is one of a number of brands produced by Choice Food of America, a company which has gathered many small labels and their recipes under a single corporate umbrella. They produce and pack their own product rather than contracting it out to other companies and they're proud enough of what they make to put their name and address prominently on each label. I'm obsessive about reading labels and you'd be surprised how many times I've had to search the fine print on some brands to get a mailing address - some companies make it as difficult as possible to find out who's responsible for getting that can or box onto the supermarket shelf. I've emailed Choice Foods to find out more about them and the brands they market, and hope to be able to write more about them in the future.