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Noteworthy HEB/Central Market Products

H-E-B seems to be adding a lot more H-E-B/CM-branded products so I think it's time for another one of these threads, I discovered a few new-to-me products (like the meatballs) from the last thread and many more since then.

Onion rolls from the in-house bakery. 6 for $2.25 or $2.50. They just started making these about 3 weeks ago and I hope they're a permanent item (I'm eating one right now with egg/cheese/bacon).

Jars of grilled asparagus, slightly pickled - $2.28/jar (IIRC). Ate a whole jar of these last night and somehow escaped the Asparagus Pee Syndrome this morning. They also have a smaller jar of "Pencil asparagus" for $.50/less but so far untried by me,.

Ready To Heat Tortillas. Lightly wet each side and cook in a hot pan about 45-60 seconds to a side until they puff up. They're the only flour tortillas I use at home anymore. They last forever in the fridge in the provided purple ziplock bag. Much better than the "Tortillaland" brand. Some HEB's carry these in the refrigerated cases, but most are in the bread aisle.

I despise grits. They are a culinary atrocity IMO. They are like a black hole - sucking the flavor out of anything you add to them or dress them with. HEB has almost conquered this phenomenon with their "True Grits - Fully Loaded", but they had to use 1070mg of salt (45% USRDA) to do it. Can't remember the price as I keep redeeming free checkout coupons.

Fully Cooked Carnitas. Break off a piece of this solidified, glutinous mass of shredded/chunked pork and fry in a pan with some chopped jalapeno, onions, spritz of water, and cotija cheese until lightly crispy and roll it up in a Ready to Heat tortilla (above) for a meaty, lardy log of lusciousness.

HEB branded gouda cheese. This is a new addition to their cheese lineup a few weeks ago. $2.48 for an 8oz brick or shredded in bags.

HEB Clam Tomato Cocktail. A Clamato clone. They've had this for a quite a while and I've drank probably 100 64oz bottles at $2.48/pop ($2 less than Clamato). I have a virgin bloody Cesar every other night - Habanero Tabasco + worcestershire + celery powder.

Maybe this was mentioned in another thread, but the HEB Spicy Charro Beans. Get some. $.96(?)/can. Light on the beans and heavy on the soupiness.

"Specialty Series" Carolina BBQ sauce (with the yellow foil top). Ignore all the others. I don't usually like sweetish BBQ sauces, but this one is a winner. $2/bottle.

HEB Premium Bacon, thick or regular in the red packages (not the HCF brand). This is high quality bacon not pumped full of water like the other name brands have taken to doing. Also comes thick sliced peppered. Not cheap.

HEB flavored tortilla chips (nacho, ranch, jalapeno). These were reformulated 6-8 months ago and are much better now - better texture and a tad heavier on the seasoning. (CM Hatch-flavored tortilla chips have also been reformulated to be thicker and less brittle, but now they kinda suck).

That's enough for now :-) I reserve the right to add to this list as the urge strikes. What are some of the other products I may be overlooking? So much food, so little time....<sigh>.

-sw

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  1. Hatch chips have been reformulated? That really stinks. Those were my favorites and the only thing keeping me from buying them all the time was the fact that they come in a really big bag.

    Are the onion rolls you mention the square ones? I tried those a few weeks ago and thought they were a little sweet and crumbly. They don't compare to the CM onion hamburger buns, which I've sadly only ever seen once.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kosheri

      The CM Hatch chips used to be much lighter and puffier, but they broke inside the bags and it was hard to find a whole chip. Now they're thicker and more corny - taste dry and blah. The change happened maybe 4-5 months ago. I only started buying them about 7 months ago so maybe the previous ones I'm referring to were just a temporary thing.

      Yes - the onion rolls are square and slightly sweet and yellow like a potato roll. I didn't find them too crumbly at the Manchaca HEB, but the ones I saw yesterday at Hancock were much more well-done (as in darker - baked longer).

      1. re: sqwertz

        I started buying those chips a few years ago, and the way you described the previous ones was how they always were--light but broke easily. Dry and blah is no good. Dang it.

        Now that I think of it, it was probably a Sunday when I bought those rolls, so they may not have been baked that day. And they could have been a little darker. That would explain the crumblines. I'll look for darker and fresher ones next time.

    2. CM cream cheese and blueberry cookies, via the bakery. Oh and their English Muffins.

      1. sqwertz - this is a wonderful post, and very helpful. I've noticed that HEB is stepping up their game in the regular stores. Whoever is the mastermind of the geographic and ethnic conditioning of the various stores should be commended.

        One new product just rolled out is the "pepper toppers." At $2.28 each, it is a good flavor to price ratio. I have only tried the Aji Peruvian pepper, but there is a cherry pepper, habanero, jalapeno, and something else that I can't remember.

        Also, it's a good time to stock up on produce - the following items are 98 cents each or per pound:

        Lettuce - romaine, red leaf, and butter.
        Kale
        Red bell peppers
        Hothouse cucumbers - those thin ones that are in the plastic
        Green beans
        Broccoli
        Tomatoes on the vine
        Red grapes.
        Mangoes are 78 cents

        9 Replies
        1. re: rudeboy

          just bought the Aji Peruvian pepper topper yesterday with 50 cent off coupon.

          Can I ask what you think about it and what you've topped so far?

          I was planning on using it with mahi mahi somehow

          1. re: topodrinko

            I used it on a hamburger. It was only borderline spicy, but my tolerance is high. I thought that it had good depth of flavor, but maybe a little acidic. That worked on the hamburger, though. I might try to combine it with mayo and see what happens.

            I will check the ingredients later this evening - I didn't even look, which is unusual for me.

          2. re: rudeboy

            Had to look up the pepper toppers to see what they were:

            http://www.heb.com/sectionpage/primo-...

            I would most likely buy the aji as well. I make a lot of sandwich-type stuff. It's on my next grocery list.

            1. re: sqwertz

              I think I'll try the cherry pepper or habanero next, and then work my way through the list. Update on the way.

              1. re: rudeboy

                Here are the aji, cherry, and habanero products. I'll reply in a bit from my computer.

                 
                1. re: rudeboy

                  These are good products, but one can do better by assembling the ingredients by hand. The general ingredients are the primary pepper, sunflower oil, salt, and sugar. They know what they are doing. The habanero is watered down - the primary component is red bell pepper and carrot, with habanero pepper a distant third. The cherry pepper was just bland. The Aji is the one that I would reccomend; it has a distinct flavor.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    Hancock HEB was had a sample station set up for these on Tuesday but it was unmanned at 2:00pm. Then again at 6:00pm - unmanned again. So I bought the Habanero anyway. I found it kinda bland, not very fresh tasting. Had I sampled it first I would not have bought it. It's something I make at home anyway - just mango and carefully deveined habaneros with a little rice vinegar and salt.

                    1. re: sqwertz

                      i picked up a jar of the jap/balsamic. taste and spice were pretty good. lots of sugar i guess. texture is kinda odd though. really liquid-y. went well on some creamy blu cheese and crackers but would have preferred larger peppers.

            2. re: rudeboy

              i came in here to post about the pepper toppers! noticed them as part of their "burger bash" promo for june.

              i got the aji and the jalapeno/cilantro. both are quite good, and would make a great addition to sandwiches and other stuff like grilled meat & veg or baked potatoes, etc.

            3. I found their "Creole Gumbo Base" in the frozen foods section of my local HEB. Added 1lb. combination of fresh shelled shrimp and crab along with some okra, rice and chopped green onions to garnish and it was excellent. The roux is correct for me and will serve 3-4 moderate eaters.

              They make two other soup bases I have not tried.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Roguewave1

                That's a good product for a quick gumbo, Roguewave1. I think that it is about six bucks, as is their etoufee base. I haven't tried the creole base.

                Basically, it is a decision of time vs convenience. On a weekday night, it's convenient not to have to monitor a roux. I do find myself chopping up some sort of trinity and taking a lot of time trying to get the right dish and shelling the seafood, so having the base taken care of already is very helpful.

                Right near the etoufee base are "Boudreaux's" crawfish. The best that China has to offer. Chinese crawfish have gotten better, and Boudreaux's is okay and has a lot of crawfish fat. I guess Boudreaux did a Marco Polo. I just made that up, and I'm pleased.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  Sorry, but I have to give a BIG thumbs down on Ming Xiùyīng Boaudreax's tail meat. Small, flavorless pieces of waterlogged foam. I just ran across a package still in my freezer from over a year ago. There used to be much better brands out there, but HEB seems to have gotten rid of most of the decent ones at my usual haunts.

                  1. re: sqwertz

                    i GREW UP MAKING ETOUFEE THE RIGHT WAY. bOILING CRAWFISH FOR FIVE MINUTES, AND THEN PEELING T HE PARBOILED TAILS AND RESERVING T shit I got stuck in allcaps,, sorry, I am not retypying. Anyhow, I was taught to finish the the crawfish in the final preparation, and reserve all the crawfish fat to make a proper etoufee and not end up with overdone crawfish. Sqwertz, is there a better product for ready-made crawfish tails?

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I saw a different brand at HEB Hancock the other day, it *looked* better, but still from China. It's not something I normally buy. Call it heresy <gasp>, but I'd rather just use the langostino tail meat from Trader Joes or Costco rather than the Chinese crayfish. It's also cheaper than domestic crayfish tail meat (CM carries the latter, but I think it's $30/lb)

                      1. re: sqwertz

                        forgot that you were a "crayfish" person, swqrtzq!

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          Ask any astacologist what they call them and they'll tell you!

                          -sw

                      2. re: rudeboy

                        it's been ages, but i'm sure that you can still get it. At Quality seafood you could buy a bag of cooked frozen crawfish tails with lots of fat in them. I've done that and added them to gumbo. I'd like to think its not from China, but who knows.
                        No clue as to price.

                2. I like the packaged pulled pork in the meat dept. (gluten free whatever) unsauced. I then get the HEB Carolina BBQ sauce, cheap generic hamburger buns and some "cafe on the run" spicy cole slaw. I like to call it COLD SLAW. But it makes for a quick, easy meal.
                  Oh and lightly toast the buns.