The other day I popped into M&S to buy some Mud Pie ice cream (currently reduced to clear at just £1.50 per tub) when I spotted this intriguing sounding ready meal at the end of one of the aisles. A healthy prawn and crab macaroni cheese? That sounded both unusual and oddly delicious. I can understand the addition of ham or bacon -perhaps even chicken- in the comforting pasta dish -but fish? Hmm M&S could've created an epic fail or had a stroke of pure genius!
At £4.25 for a single ready meal (but also currently part of a 3 for £10 'balanced for you' meal deal) I wasn't prepared to risk it. But then I found myself wondering about the macaroni cheese again and again before finally deciding to treat myself to it yesterday -I was home alone and neck deep in assignments after all!
"Prawn & crab macaroni cheese topped with a Cheddar cheese & paprika crumb."
The meal comes in a foil dish, which M&S suggests popping into a 200c oven (180 fan) for 10 minutes, before removing the film and returning for the last 15. What a faff! Normally I cook my own meals so am used to being in the kitchen, but I bought this for the convenience! I was working on my assignment when I put it in the oven, and it was 15 minutes before I looked at my watch and remembered to pull myself away from the computer to remove the lid. Oops.
There wasn't a huge deal of 'crust' on top to crisp up anyway to be honest, but my dinner was bubbling by the time I retrieved it. It was an odd colour for a macaroni cheese, more salmon than pale yellow.
What I hadn't realised is that the crab element actually comes from the sauce! I'd naively thought that the pasta would be in a cheese sauce with prawns and crab in, but if I'd have read the description I'd have realised that the dish is in fact 'cooked pasta with prawns in a creamy crab and lemon sauce, topped with Cheddar cheese and a paprika crumb.' Oh.
The resulting flavour was as odd as it sounds, a kind of fishy, very lemony sauce with a cheesiness lingering somewhere in the background. I mean, there was something quite yummy and very comforting about it (after all Mac & Cheese is the ultimate in cold evening's eating) but there was also something about it that just didn't quite sit right. Perhaps it was due to the overwhelming citrus flavour, or perhaps it was down to the rubbery prawns (25 mins in my furnace didn't do them any favours I can assure you).
I can't say I'd part with another £4.25 to have this meal again, but I would pick it up if I saw it adorned with those tempting yellow stickers on at the end of the day.