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My favorite things from HEB

Thought I had started one of these, but it was specific to Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Overall, HEB is the best 'everyday' grocery chain I've experienced, being familiar with the chains in the northeast, southeast, and northwest.

Here's what I'm lovin' now from HEB:

1) Right now, HEB's Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon is completely delicious and $9.97 / pound. Made 2 fillets today - pan fried and then finished in the toaster oven. Served with Cedar's tzatziki sauce on the side and roasted broccoli. Delicious because:
- it's still moist when I cook it to temp (165F)
- it tastes great

In other times of the year, buying sockeye salmon and then cooking it to temp means dry salmon. Unless it's sushi grade salmon or tuna, I have decided to bring it up to temp after watching those documentaries about getting worms in your brain if you eat undercooked salmon or tuna. I don't want worms in my brain :-).

2) Also right now, organic blueberries are in season and convenient to buy from HEB. (Though the real $ deal in organic blueberries is from Costco .)

3) My favorite whole grain bread these days is from HEB. It goes by something like "Whole Grain Country French" boule (it's round). It tastes of sourdough though I don't believe that word is on the label.

I've seen it the HEB on Braker and 183, and Spicewood Springs and 183. This sounds odd but the top of the boule is a light brown / grey-ish color (they should brush it with butter or something go make it a deeper brown). It's my favorite whole grain bread that doesn't taste like health food, but simply like delicious bread. Great for sandwiches.

4) Duke's Mayonnaise if your HEB has it

5) The Central Market organic arugula

Another delicious HEB bread is the rustic cranberry walnut or cranberry pistachio bread. Toasted HEB cranberry pistachio bread with cream cheese could be the perfect light breakfast before the turkey onset...

Oh, and for dessert, most HEB's carry the Central Market cookie dough near their egg section. Recently I deviated from my Chocolate Chunk cookie addiction and tried their Cranberry Walnut cookie dough Also delicious. Put it in your freezer immediately, and it lasts forever. If you break off 1 and only 1, it's only a 140 calorie debit to your daily calorie budget. I combine it with a skim milk - iced coffee combo, and it's total bliss. 10 minutes @ 350 in the toaster oven. Then wrap it loosely in a folded paper towel to let it cool for a couple minutes.

6) HEB's frozen meatballs are really convenient and the best frozen meatballs I've tried. Then when there's literally nothing in the fridge, I can always make pasta + meatballs + marinara sauce.

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  1. i can't get enough of "That Green Sauce".

    also digging the HEB brand Borracho Beans w/Shiner. I dress them up with a little water, salt, cumin and onion and let them simmer for about 20 min.

    16 Replies
    1. re: ieathereforeiam

      Try the bulk packaged Molcajete Rojas (the red chunky stuff). I can't get into "That Green Sauce" since it's not "That Green Sauce I was Hoping it Would Be".

      -sw

      1. re: ieathereforeiam

        I totally agree about the borracho beans. I was very surprised at how good they were, but I'll have to try your suggested alterations next time.

        1. re: ms1195

          How/where are the borracho beans sold? Can, tray, deli?

          -sw

          1. re: sqwertz

            They are sold in a can. My son thinks they are too sweet and that they need bacon.

            1. re: sqwertz

              the can is snazzy looking and stands out. it's got some silver in the label or something.

          2. re: ieathereforeiam

            Love "That Green Sauce." It's so good on breakfast tacos.
            Another HEB find is their homemade flour tortillas. They blow those preservative filled tortillas away. And thanks for the tip on the corn tortillas. I haven't tried them but will soon.

            1. re: Sweet_Cheeks

              HEB used to have a "Authentic Lard Tortilla" sold in bags of 10 but I haven't seen then for ages. I liked those. Some thing?

              1. re: sqwertz

                i think they rebranded it as "homestyle"?

                1. re: dinaofdoom

                  I'll check again, but the homestyle ones I saw were thick and yucky IIRC. It's too bad they don't carry the semi-newish El Millagro flour tortillas. You have to get those at a Mexican market.

              2. re: Sweet_Cheeks

                Hi Sweet_Cheeks - are you talking about the tortillas made in-store? If so, I agree. Really like the redish ones that have powered chilis mixed in, especially when the bag is still warm to the touch.

                1. re: Alan Sudo

                  Yep, those are the ones I'm talking about. I like how they are thinner too, unlike the big brand, packaged kind.

                  1. re: Sweet_Cheeks

                    Central Market sometimes has store-made ones that are half corn and half flour that are pretty decent. I like them, but eat them quickly as they go bad fast. They're fairly wet and need toasting on a dry pan first.

                    1. re: sqwertz

                      Love the butter tortillas at the HEB on 35 and Parmer. So far it's the only location where I can find them. If only they made a gluten free one.

                      1. re: tdombrow

                        Do they literally have the word 'butter' on the packaging label?

                        As opposed to lard tortillas?

                        1. re: tdombrow

                          YES YES YES x150 on this post. God... those butter tortillas, slathered with some refried beans and cheese.... I'm having to wipe up drool on my keyboard as I type this.

                          1. re: tdombrow

                            I saw them at CM South today. I was looking for the half corn/half flour ones, but no go.

                2. The Central Market Hatch Green Chili salsa is back and is my favorite to make homemade enchiladas. I add it to a sour cream sauce recipe and it is so delicious.

                  We also really like the premixed burgers at the meat counter. My favorite is the poblano and cheddar while the fella's favorite is the black pepper/garlic. I noticed they are also doing turkey and salmon burgers now. We haven't tried those yet.

                  Thanks for the tip on the frozen meat balls.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: missmitzi

                    all the hatch green chile stuff i've tried has been tasty.
                    the central market organic hatch green chile tortilla chips in particular. yum.

                    1. re: missmitzi

                      Yes!!! To the Hatch Green Chilli Salsa! They also have a red version that is also soooo delicious!

                    2. I'm a big fan of their homestyle meatballs too.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: verily

                        They have another line of meatballs that comes in 12 or 16 ounce packages. Plastic bags surrounded by a sleeve of cardboard. I tried the habenero-somthigng last week and they were awesome. Problem is that I can't find that at any of the HEB's I shop regularly.

                        1. re: verily

                          I bought the large 40oz bag of Italian Homestyle Meatballs the other day. Boy, those are pretty evil. I see a few meatball sandwiches in my future. They are very similar to CostCo's bags of meatballs.

                          1. re: sqwertz

                            Served those with Classico Spicy Tomato and Basil sauce, mini kaiser rolls and mozzarella cheese for a gathering last week. Tons of compliments.

                        2. I drink a gallon of their Calm Tomato Cocktail a month. It's not quite Clamato, but it's a lot cheaper. Worcestershire, sriracha, celery salt, a slice of crispy cooked bacon sticking out of the top... hold the vodka.

                          Their frozen potato wedges for frying (HCF brand, IIRC). Awesome.

                          Creamy Creations Dulce De Leche. A steal at $2.50/quart.

                          To be continued....

                          1. I love their fresh salsas (especially the green- it makes for killer enchiladas), their frozen french bread, the pre-marinated pork tenderloin, and the fresh corn tortillas (b/c they don't go bad for a while... yeah, yeah preservatives- whatever), and right now the nectarines are insanely good.

                            1. I love their Central Market frozen pizzas from Italy. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find anything but bare shelves where the Quattro Formaggio and Mozzarella pizzas should be. Checked 3-4 HEBs and Central Market but they've been gone for a month now.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: knightro98

                                We don't have HEB in my part of Texas. We are getting Trader Joe's. Maybe HEB will not be far behind!

                                1. re: randyjl

                                  there are parts of texas without HEBs? hard to imagine! they are so prevalent here in austin and environs.

                                  1. re: dinaofdoom

                                    It's either Houston or Dallas doesn't have any HEB's except for Central Market. I don't understand it either.

                                    1. re: sqwertz

                                      My parents' Houston-area town is still very much a Kroger city. There's one HEB off on one side of town, but my mom refuses to shop there as she thinks it's dirty and disorganized.

                                      She likes Central Market though, but the chances of one of those coming to her area are nil...there's a rebadged Plus in the really affluent neighboring town and that's it. Though that town is getting one of the first Trader Joe's in the state....there may be hope yet for a remodel.

                                      1. re: sqwertz

                                        It's Dallas that doesn't have them.....yet. We moved to DFW from Houston and I miss HEB immensely!

                                  2. re: knightro98

                                    those are very good. i like all of that line, and often doctor them with extra cheese and veggies.
                                    my local grocery, parmer/mcneil, had some when i was in there on sunday.

                                  3. The Arbosana Olive Oil. They have 4 kinds of singe varietal olive oils from California, but the Arbosana is the only one that kicks butt, IMO. And the sales of it must justify it since it went up $1 over the rest of the same line. Technically it's a central Market label, but sold at practically every HEB.

                                    I was not bowled over by their imported Tuscan, Seville, or Kalamata versions, but here are decent.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: sqwertz

                                      I like the Arbequina as well... it doesn't compare to the Texas Olive Ranch Arbequina, which is one of my favorites if not THE favorite available at HEB/CM, but it's about half the price.

                                      1. re: popvulture

                                        I just looked at your profile...

                                        HEB's "Pork Grilling Strips" (Notice they're marketed by "Parkway Manufacturing" which is an HEB-owned company responsible for much of their cookware/gadget imports).

                                        Anyway, I cure those in salt, garlic, and sodium nitrite (pink salt #1) for a couple days, then rinse, dry, pepper, and smoke lightly. Then I optionally fry up cross sections in the pan and they make the best home made bacon you've ever tasted.

                                        After smoking (can be eaten as is):
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/sqwertz/...
                                        (Click photo to enlarge)

                                        Or you can fry them up in a pan to make them crispy:
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/sqwertz/...
                                        (They're better than they look - trust me)

                                        Thought I'd suggest it since you said you wanted to do charcuterie. And these are really easy. I've done over 10lbs of the HEB Pork Grilling Strips this way. They are also great for making sausage if you add a little more lean meat. I'm going to try dry-curing whole strips next - stuffed into sausage casings 3 at a time.

                                        -sw.

                                        1. re: sqwertz

                                          Ah, yes... the grilling strips. They're such an odd phenomenon, but oh so damn delicious. Your method looks awesome- I'll have to try it sometime.

                                          Mine's more of a quick preparation. Usually I take an ancho, two guajillos and a few chile piquins and toast them in a dry pan with some cumin seed (sometimes I also add cascabel or pasillas, arbols, whatever I have on hand). Then I buzz it up with a coffee grinder and mix the powder with the juice of about five limes, plus some olive oil, salt, maybe some roasted garlic powder. Then I rub the paste all over the strips and let them marinate for a little while.

                                          I then grill them over direct heat for a few minutes to get a nice char (you really can't burn these things, it seems... the crustier on the outside, the better), then I move them off to the sides of the grill and cook for another 10-15 minutes, covered.

                                          I take them off the grill and tent with foil, rest for about five mins. Then I cut them up into bite sized pieces and put them on a platter. Squeeze one lime over the pieces and sprinkle with roughly chopped cilantro.

                                          Not wanting to toot my own horn or anything, but people usually beg me for the recipe. I won't take the credit, though... the strips really put in all of the work :)

                                          1. re: popvulture

                                            Oh, and a charcoal grill is pretty much imperative with this preparation. I imagine gas would suck in comparison.

                                            1. re: popvulture

                                              You can't go wrong with them - they're 1/3rd fat. Cooked right, the fat gets nice and crispy. Grill sounds good - I've only smoked them so far. I gotta do skirt steaks next (similar to how you just described), but I try that with the strips. Only certain HEB's carry those. I have to go Congress and Oltorf to get them.

                                              -sw

                                      2. The HEB brand frozen french bread is really, surprisingly good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: heyzeus212

                                          I've had the CM demi baguettes - I think they're the same thing. I believe they're imported from France. I'm not as happy withe their new par-baked french baguettes imported from Holland. The other brand from France was much better.

                                        2. There's a bread at the Parmer/35 bakery called Seedilicious. I could probably tackle a whole loaf in one sitting, I love it so much.

                                          The premarinated pork tenderloins are pretty awesome as well. I usually grab the garlic peppercorn one if I'm in a time crunch.

                                          I could not live without fresh HEB tortillas for my tacos.

                                          1. When I wrote the above post (June 13), I almost felt a little silly / paranoid writing the warning about wanting to cook my salmon up to temp. (unless it's labeled 'sushi-grade')

                                            "1) Right now, HEB's Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon is completely delicious and $9.97 / pound. Made 2 fillets today - pan fried and then finished in the toaster oven. Served with Cedar's tzatziki sauce on the side and roasted broccoli. Delicious because:
                                            - it's still moist when I cook it to temp (165F)
                                            - it tastes great

                                            In other times of the year, buying sockeye salmon and then cooking it to temp means dry salmon. Unless it's sushi grade salmon or tuna, I have decided to bring it up to temp after watching those documentaries about getting worms in your brain if you eat undercooked salmon or tuna. I don't want worms in my brain :-). "

                                            It's been a long time since I saw that documentary on TV.
                                            However, I just saw the following on a saved KXAN newscast:
                                            http://bit.ly/MkLAUC

                                            :eek: !!

                                            The KXAN website article says,
                                            "There are only two ways to kill them: cooking the fish thoroughly or freezing raw salmon through a process mandated by law at minus 4 degrees for 168 hours, which is about seven days.
                                            'It kills the parasites. It kills the worms, and it makes sure it's safe to eat," said Huntsberger.'"

                                            Of course, what the heck does 'cook the fish thoroughly' mean?

                                            I thought it was 165 from reading here on Chowhound eons ago.

                                            UC Davis says it's 140
                                            http://seafood.ucdavis.edu/pubs/paras...
                                            "How long should I cook fish to kill parasites?
                                            Cooking fish to an internal temperature of 140°F will kill all fish nematodes and tapeworms. Normal cooking procedures generally exceed this temperature"

                                            FYI - for you partially cooked salmon lovers, in Northwest Austin at the Stonelake location,very close to the HEB on Braker lane, Roaring Fork's cedar-planked salmon IS "sushi grade", and the chef does a spectacular job with that and the entire meal. I ask the server to check each time that the salmon that day is sushi-grade, and the answer always comes back Yes. That dish + their small cornbread rounds makes for the perfect mid-afternoon lunch or dinner.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: sweet100s

                                              Sushi grade really means nothing. All salmon served raw in restaurants must be frozen (as you mention above - there are several times/temp to do it safely) to kill parasites. Yes, you're eating thawed salmon at these fancy sushi places. It wasn't swimming yesterday. Or the day before that. It was frozen solid or thawing out.

                                              -sw

                                              1. re: sqwertz

                                                Sqwertz are you sure?

                                                I thought that 2 of the food terms that actually have a legally-bound meaning was "organic" and "sushi-grade", and that sushi grade meant that it had to be frozen for long enough and low enough to kill the beasties.

                                                1. re: sweet100s

                                                  "USDA Organic" is a legal term.

                                                  As for raw fish - there's alot of people claiming there is such a thing as sashimi or sushi-grade fish but there really is no such beast. There are standards for how raw fish should be handled if it will be served raw but the USDA does not define the terms "sashimi grade" or "sushi grade". Retailers may use those terms to indicate absolutely nothing in particular. They don't even have to guarantee it's safe to eat raw or has undergone the necessary chilling periods by using such terms.

                                                  I have of course done previous research on this, though admittedly not recently. But the nature of the Internet dictates that somebody will prove me wrong if that is the case ;-)

                                                  -sw

                                            2. Two more things I forgot to add in my original reply. The fresh, hot loaves of french bread that they keep near check out is one of my favorites....and all for $1.50. I love that bread with a little olive oil and salt. I have ruined many a meals by eating too much of that bread.

                                              Another great find is the seasoned hamburger patties at the meat counter. They have a couple different flavors - cowboy, poblano and cheese, pepper, etc. They are fantastic. Plus, they are huge and really a meal in itself. No need for a bun.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Sweet_Cheeks

                                                HEB just got done with "Burger Bash Week" or something like that. They had $3-off coupons off of the 2-packs of pre-made burgers. They were made from USDA Prime beef and they were better than I expected. The price was right, too, so I tried them all. Still have 2 in the freezer (bacon and cheddar). They're not too expensive at their regular price of $6/lb if a burgers are a rare occurrence for you and you want a GOOD one.

                                                1. re: Sweet_Cheeks

                                                  Have you tried their par-cooked loaves?

                                                  (the ones sealed up that you finish baking at home?) I've wondered if those are any good. Almost tried it last time. But I couldn't resist the Ciabatta for sandwiches.

                                                2. Just tried their Creamy Creations Limited Edition Peach Cobbler ice cream and it is probably going to add pounds on me, it is so good. Much better than their Poteet Strawberry.

                                                  1. I love the prime sirloin steaks for under $7 a pound found at the meat counter. They are thick cut and great off the grill!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: raisncains

                                                      Which HEB, the HEB +'s have prime rib eyes for $9lb, but that's not available at the regular HEB's.

                                                      1. re: whoalilponie

                                                        The one on Greenlawn and the one on Redbud Lane.

                                                    2. Although not a permanent item, I'm sure, HEB is selling "Sea of Cortez" shrimp right now. They are awesomely buttery and large and the price is decent. I got mine from the case. Went to Parmer/McNeil to get more.....they are also selling them in 1.5 lb frozen bags.

                                                      1. I've been using my gas grill every day lately and here's my favorite HEB items for it:

                                                        The dollar a pound chicken legs with the red rub on it - I forget how it's labeled, we just call it sprinkle chicken and they ALWAYS have it at a good price. I grill it over low heat starting skin side up for 20 minutes, turn and wait another 20 minutes, turn again and coat with BBQ sauce, cook another 10-20 more minutes or until the sauce is nice and dark. Even my husband who normally hates dark meat loves it.

                                                        The marinated pork tenderloins and all the various meats for fajitas are great on the grill. I prefer the beef for fajitas.

                                                        Southside sausage is fantastic cooked low and slow on the grill in one long string of links.

                                                        1015 onions. I love all things onion anyway and these are my favorites. Whole green onions are also awesome. I've also grilled peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, and squash lately, all very nice.

                                                        Their premade guacamole has been excellent lately. Very fresh.

                                                        1. 3 cheers for the new HEB Organics line of products.

                                                          Its organic shredded cheese seems to be now $1 less than equivalent at Whole Foods.

                                                          Yet another reason to appreciate HEB.
                                                          http://www.businessinsider.com/h-e-b-...

                                                          They are also a good company to work for according to the purchasing analyst I went to MBA school with.

                                                          However, HEB:

                                                          1) Please refrain from constantly relocating my favorite 150 calorie fast breakfast - the Crepini breakfast crepes filled with blueberries and soft ricotta cheese.
                                                          http://crepini.com/product.aspx?produ...

                                                          In most HEBs they are now around the corner from the deli in the open refridgerated case. Or, if you must relocate them, please inform your team of their new location.

                                                          2) And on a more serious note, please stop adding Propylene Glycol to your store-made muffins.

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969788