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By Kathy Saunders, Times Correspondent
Published December 5, 2007
Boxed scalloped potatoes ranking:
1. Wal-Mart Great Value
2. Betty Crocker
3. GFS Marketplace
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One of our panelists has a great recipe for scalloped potatoes. It involves potatoes, a lot of butter and heavy cream. It also takes a good bit of slicing and layering, but it's a holiday favorite in our house.
Most of the time, however, I am proud of myself when I manage to whip up a boxed version of the side dish for a busy weekday dinner.
Taster's Choice panelists had tried some of the brands in our survey. But they now will buy their boxed potatoes at Wal-Mart.
The Great Value mix from Wal-Mart 96 cents for 5.1 ounces scored the highest of eight mixes we tried. Judges gave it 66 out of 100 possible points, and three of the five said they would buy the brand. All of the mixes were prepared according to the package directions and baked in casserole dishes in the oven.
Panelists liked the brown crust that formed on top of the potato casserole; they also appreciated the creamy texture and cheddar cheese flavor of the sauce.
One judge said the Great Value dish, with plenty of herbs, looked the most homemade.
"This would be great with turkey burgers," said another.
Betty Crocker's version of the potatoes ($1.69 for 4.9 ounces from Publix) was their second choice. Judges gave the brand 57 points, and two of them said they would buy the boxed mix.
"It's very saucy with a moist, velvety texture that doesn't taste of flour," said one judge. "It also has a faint onion flavor."
Another judge detected a smoky flavor in the Betty Crocker brand.
"Small potatoes, but big taste," he said.
The Classic Casserole mix from GFS (Gordon Food Service) Marketplace was the next selection, receiving 54 points from panelists. Again, two said they would buy the brand. Mostly, they liked the size of the thinly sliced potatoes.
"These have a soft, buttery cream taste and nice flecks of herbs," said one judge.
Another compared the flavoring to onion soup mix, but said she liked the texture nevertheless.
Also sampled were scalloped potatoes byPublix ($1.19 for 5 ounces); Idahoan ($1.50 for 1.5 ounces from Publix); Kraft Velveeta ($1.76 for 10.52 ounces from Wal-Mart); Albertsons ($1.89 for 5.25 ounces); and Hannaford ($1.19 for 5.25 ounces from Sweetbay).
Panelists were Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; aesthetician Jim Yockey at AnuYou Institute; and St. Petersburg Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.
[Last modified December 4, 2007, 11:43:18]