I’m the Grocery Editor at Kitchn — And This Monday Night Meal Is the Best New Thing I Tried All Week

published Feb 18, 2022
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Personal perspective of a shopper pushing shopping trolley along product aisle while shopping in a supermarket
Credit: Getty Images/ d3sign

This past Sunday, I spent the better part of the afternoon making mac and cheese (from scratch!) and brownies from the most decadent mix I’ve tried to date. (These brownies are made with two-and-a-half sticks of butter and the result is luxurious.) While neither of these recipes are complicated, they both require a decent amount of effort and concentration — two things I don’t have an endless supply of, unfortunately. 

Come Monday night, my brain needed a break. Yes, already. I even thought about ordering takeout, because eating leftover mac and cheese twice in one day didn’t excite me. But I wanted to cook something. I just didn’t want to think so hard or follow a recipe step-by-step while doing it. So, I scanned my bookshelf-turned-exposed pantry and dug through a collection of cardboard boxes. What did I find? Two sauce pouches that turned into the best quick dinner I’ve had in a while. Plus, a bottle of balsamic vinegar, which I used to upgrade a dessert! Allow me to explain.

Dinner: A Dozen Cousins Entrée and Rice Seasoning Sauces

I turned to a pouch of Mexican Pollo Asado sauce from A Dozen Cousins. It’s a vibrant burnt orange color and is made with orange juice, achiote paste, apple cider vinegar, and a range of spices. The steps seemed easy and straightforward: Open pouch, marinate food, preheat oven, cook food. Enjoy! Not only could I handle that, but I was looking forward to it and the end result.

At first, I was nervous that 15 minutes (the suggested marinated time) wouldn’t be long enough for the chicken to absorb the flavor, but after one taste all my concerns subsided. The robust citrus flavor permeated through the skin to the tender flesh (PSA: Use a meat thermometer!), each bite more satisfying than the last. I paired it with rice cooked with the Carribean Coconut Rice sauce — the coconut flavor is the exact right amount of subtle — and some roasted veggies and called it dinner. The following day, I called it lunch.

Buy: A Dozen Cousins Mexican Pollo Asado Seasoning Sauce, $34.99 for 10 (3-ounce) packets at Amazon

Dessert: Kosterina Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

Don’t worry, I did not drink the bottle for dessert; I did, however, pour a spoonful to first taste the Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar before drizzling, well, showering two scoops of vanilla ice cream with it. Made with Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes, wine vinegar, and dark cocoa concentrate, this is the chocolate syrup I want behind the counter at every Baskin-Robbins.

It’s less viscous and more interesting than regular ol’ chocolate sauce. It starts out with a rich, chocolatey flavor and then zings you with its acidic finish. What a ride. According to the bottle, you can also dip, bake, and cook with it. When eaten with some slightly melty ice cream (the best kind!), it’s simply satisfying. What more could I ask for on a Monday night?

Buy: Kosterina Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, $20.95 for 12.7 ounces at Kosterina

What new groceries have you tried this week? Tell us about it in the comments.