Melanie May headed to the launch of Aldi’s new range of ready to cook dishes – ‘The Secret Chef’, here is how she got on….
The Cook’s Academy in Dublin was buzzing with food lovers last week for the Aldi Ireland launch of ‘The Secret Chef’, its new range of ready to cook dishes. The range consists of 28 dishes that are pre-prepared and, well, ready to cook. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the packaging and cook in the oven or on the stovetop. The Secret Chef range takes the hassle out of meal prep giving the busy cook back some time to get on with other things, like choosing the best wine to go with each dish, but Aldi has even made this an easier task by including a wine recommendation guide in its current leaflet.
Based around bacon, beef, chicken, lamb, pork and turkey each dish combines complimentary ingredients and are full of flavour. They are also convenient in terms of portion size, for example one dish, the lamb shoulder rack topped with a mint and herb crust, is the perfect sized roast for two people. My favourite dish that I tried was the striploin steak with pepper coating, which had perfectly balanced seasoning and was tender and juicy. The steaks were a generous size too. I have to admit I was impressed with the variety of the range, the creative flavours and the quality of the ingredients of each dish. Therefore, I was surprised to learn the range starts from as little at €2.99 and the all of the dishes are under a tenner. A real bargain if you ask me.
Also on hand, to launch the range, was pastry chef Louise Lennox and Chef Gary O Hanlon from the TV show The Restaurant. Using only Aldi ingredients Gary whipped up three easy but tasty starter dishes and Louise made three tempting desserts for us all to try. All six dishes were of such high quality and standards and tasted as good as you would get in a high-end restaurant highlighting the top quality and versatility of Aldi’s ingredients. Tom Doorley, Aldi’s Wine Expert, was also there to guide us in the right direction when it came to choosing an accompanying wine for each dish.
The dark chocolate marquise with homemade honeycomb that Louise made was one of the nicest desserts I ever did try and I’ve tried a lot. I nearly shed a tear as I licked the spoon clean and realised there was none left. One of the dishes Gary made was a very tasty salmon cream cheese mousse that was so full of flavour yet simple to make, so I have included the recipe for you to try at home. Served on some fresh brioche rolls or brown bread it makes a super light starter or impressive hors d’oeuvres – guaranteed to win over any dinner guest.
The Secret Chef range is now available in Aldi stores nationwide.
Organic Hot Smoked Salmon, Mackerel & Grain Mustard Cream Cheese Mousse Recipe
- 125g Specially Selected Organic Hot Smoked Salmon
- 100g Almare Smoked Mackerel
- 200g soft cheese with garlic & herbs
- 2tbs Bramwells Wholegrain Mustard
- Juice of one lime
- Small bunch of fresh coriander chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix slowly until combined.
Written by Melanie May