On our BEEF Taste Test plates this month are two convenient beef products from RMH Foods Inc. They are "Beef Meat Loaf with Gravy" from the Quick-N-Easy Original Classics line and "2 Beef Top Sirloin Steaks in Bourbon Sauce" from the Bistro Signature Entrees line.

The 24-oz. meatloaf product has a suggested retail price of $5.49. (A competitive Hormel product has a suggested retail of $5.99 for a 17-oz. package.) The top sirloin steak product is a 16-oz. package (two steaks) and has a suggested retail of $10.99.

Overall, the five-person taste test panel rated the meatloaf product an 8 (on a 10-point scale), while the sirloin steaks rated a 7.6.

The meatloaf product rated no lower than a 3.7 (5-point scale) in the individual categories of packaging, convenience and sensory factors. It's highest scores came in sensory factors, where panelists lauded its presentation, taste, tenderness and juiciness. Its lowest sensory rating came in texture (3.8) as some panelists preferred a "chunkier" texture.

"Great taste! Meat loaf fans should love this one," said one panelist.

Meanwhile, the sirloin steak entree garnered its lowest score in ease of preparation with a 3.2 (5-point scale). Panelists believed the microwave directions to be too cumbersome.

The directions called for microwaving the sealed plastic pouch containing the steaks and bourbon sauce on medium (50% power) for 5-7 minutes, then turning the tray halfway through heating. Following that, the steaks were to be removed from the plastic pouch, the bourbon sauce poured over the steaks, then heating on medium for two more minutes.

Needless to say, panelists found handling a hot plastic pouch to remove the steaks and pour the sauce contained in the same pouch over the steaks was a messy proposition.

The sirloin steak product fared the best in the sensory factor categories in which it rated a 4.3 in both presentation and taste, a 4 in juiciness, a 3.8 in tenderness and a 3.7 in texture.

"Wonderful taste in this product" and "not as user friendly as some of its competition," were two of the taster comments.