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So far Life of Pies has created 18 blog entries.

McRobb Butchers Wigan lobby pie with beetroot

By |2021-06-16T14:26:56+01:00June 16th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , , , , , |

I paid my first visit to McRobb’s Butchers on Saturday, primarily to get BBQ gear but of course, there was no way I was leaving without a pie.

McRobb’s are based in Chorley, Lancashire but also have an outlet in a nearby retail centre, where I have previously bought their meat but now, they have a shop in the centre of Standish village. And what a shop it is! It is hard to distinguish from a posh wine bar with the dark green canopies and wood panelled signage, all giving off an air of opulence. Upon entry, it is wall to wall, fridge to fridge meats, seasonings and pies. Not sure my missus would appreciate the dead animals hung up but if you want to know whether the meat is fresh….you can literally name your cut and point to it and one of the helpful chaps and ladies in aprons bustling around the counters will sort you out.

I picked up a load of sausages, burgers, and skewers and then cast my eye over the pie selection. I have been notified of this one before but yet to try it. The subtle difference between my first book Life of Pies and my next one is that I have learnt to deviate from the bog standard meat and potato pie, much as I love them. So I felt duty obliged to taste test the Wigan “Lobbie” pie with beetroot.

The beetroot, I should add is IN the pie. If I’m honest, I’d prefer it without beetroot, purely to make room for more meat. But then beetroot is a super food so maybe it will help me power through the afternoon’s calls and meetings. And perhaps turn my wee a funny colour.

But what is a lobbie, you non North West natives, might ask? Well, lobbies (plural) are a pan of stew, akin to Lancashire hotpot but without a crust lid. It’s actually thought to originate in Leigh not Wigan. So this, of course is technically a lobby and beetroot filled pie, in a whole crust. Or a meat and veg pie, with a layer of beetroot in it. Into the oven you pop then.

The top crust looks a bit crinkled, possibly due to me buying it on Saturday and sticking it in the fridge for a few days, but upon removing the paper wrapper, I am suitably impressed with the size and dimensions of it.

Twenty minutes later and it is ready and there is a pleasant pastry aroma floating around the kitchen. The pie slips effortlessly out of the foil tray and on to my plate and the density and weight of it surprises me a little. The pastry has darkened a touch in the oven and is slightly flakey on top, but it has held together nicely. I cut it in half to see what purple delights lie within and find a perfect layer of beetroot, evenly spread and nestling just below the top crust. It bleeds a little bit into the crust and into the filling below but it is very aesthetically pleasing and the pie holds together in the hands throughout.

The beetroot is sweet and crunchy and compliments the soft fluffy potato and mince very well. I must admit that when I have an actual hot pot, I tend to go for pickled onions over beetroot and red cabbage but the flavour is well balanced within and the pastry is soft on the inside, with a crisp outer texture.

If I’m truthful, I could take or leave the beetroot, it is there purely to add a slightly sweet and pickled taste to the pie and provide a bit of novelty value. Nevertheless, there is still a good inch of so of filling underneath consisting of mince meat, potato, carrots and gentle seasoning.

It is also priced competitively at £2.30 and in line with the nearby pie shops. They also have a hot counter with all manner of pies and sausage rolls, so that you can pick one up ready to eat. I’ve only just scratched the surface here.

McRobbs, I shall return!

Current pricing (June 2021)

A Wigan “lobby” pie with beetroot costs £2.30. They also sell chunk steak, lamb and mint, chicken and leek, meat and potato pies and a lobby pie without beetroot. Plus a load of other stuff including some terrific cuts for your barbecue…

Website: http://Www.Mcrobbbutchers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcrobb_butcher
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcrobb.butcher/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcrobb_butcher
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
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Slattery’s Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-06-10T12:21:11+01:00June 10th, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie|Tags: , , , , , |

Slattery’s are somewhat better known as a cake maker and patisserie these days. My good lady, who is not a proficient pie eater, has been known to go there for afternoon tea.

Nevertheless, way back in 2012, they came highly recommended to me as a quality North Manchester pie maker, from a friend at FC United, one Maurice Twomowers, so I decided to seek them out. They still knock up a decent pie and buffet to this very day.

I should add that this was a FOUR PIE DAY for me and this was the first. For a while, Hampsons (now Pound Bakery) in Wigan used to do four pies for a pound when I worked in the centre. The first two slipped down easily, the third presented a bit of resistance and by the time I got to the 4th my stomach was growling like a hungover lion.

When you come off the motorway at Bury, after the Manchester sign you can shortly see another which says “Slatterys – World class bakers and confectioners”.

I should add that when I did this review, I visited a back street shop, which I believe has now closed as they have gone fully blown on their main site on Bury New Road. Yet even then, aside from the huge plate pies, pasties and sandwiches, I was taken aback by the cakes which looked so sweet they could make your teeth drop out, by just looking at them.

 

Slattery’s Meat and Potato Pie

5.

Purveyor:  Slatterys

Premises: Whitefield

Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.50

Place: 8 If Willy Wonka made crusts instead of chocolate, it’d look like this place

Pastry: 7.5 A glazed top crust, with a little porthole and a large crack running through the middle, giving a seductive peek at the delights which lie inside

Presentation: 7 Authentic aroma and of a very good temperature

Package: 8 Upon attempting hand based consumption, gravy spilled down my sleeve. This is indeed a wondrous experience!

Palate: 7 Slight lack of seasoning but this enabled the individual components to come through

Price: 7 £1.50 Feels like a “value ceiling” in the meat and potato market

Portion: 7 Average size but devoured in record time as you’d expect for the first of the day

OVERALL: 51.5/70 An impressive pie and an impressive start to the day. It appears that the man in possession of both a Flymo and a Qualcast knows his stuff pie wise.

It certainly gives off a powerful aroma. I’m sat in a retail park making a proper mess of the wife’s car here, so I wander over to B&M Bargains and get some binbags and air fresheners. More accessories carried around by mass murderers basically.

The finer details:

The original review took place on Saturday 28th January 2012. As mentioned, they are a primarily a cake maker and offer lessons in baking but they still serve a range of pies and hot and cold food to take out, along with a myriad of excessively sweet and yummy things for afters.

Current pricing (June 2021)

A meat and potato pie is £2.15, they also sell cheese and onion, steak and ale and beefsteak pies, along with various specials

Website: https://slattery.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/slattery_cakes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlatteryCakes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slattery_cakes/

Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

Click here to review Slattery’s Pies: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/3634/slatterys/

See previous review https://goodpieguide.co.uk/percy-ingles-steak-bite/

You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

 

Percy Ingles Steak Bite

By |2021-05-21T12:29:06+01:00May 21st, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies|Tags: , , , , |

aka How not to buy a pie down South

Chapter 4 of Life of Pies was a hard lesson learned about the intricacies of pie eating in the capital city. You see, I foolishly thought that, like in Wigan, you would just walk into a bakers cum pie shop and get one delivered in your luck, hot off the rack. No such luck as schoolboy error after school boy error was performed.

 

Percy Ingles, Tuesday 24th January 2012

“Do you sell pies luv?”

A simple enough question I thought. It might get you a funny look if you walk into a bakers in Wigan and ask that question, seeing as you are likely to be confronted with racks of the buggers.

The pie lady, and I’m not being sexist here as it nearly always is a lady, might think you’re being a touch sarcastic you see. When up North, you’d have to offer some variation along the lines of:

“Have you got any pies left?” or a more genteel

“What pies have you got left?”

Both acceptable, albeit the second can show you up to be something of a pie novice in the jungle that is a North West pie shop if you cannot decipher the product line on sight alone.

I digress. So we’ve established it’s a bloody stupid question to ask in a bakery in the North West of England. However, it also garners an equally profound “have you just been beamed down from outer space sunshine” type expression should you venture that query forward in certain other parts of the country.

I’m in Poplar. Cockney country. Within the sound of Bow Bells, not that I can hear them today. It’s February: still freezing, still snowing. I get off the tube at All Saints and wander through Chrisp Street Market in search of a Percy Ingles bakery, famed throughout East London and Essex. The irony here, is that I practically have to walk past a pie and mash shop to get there, I need to get my product and move quickly, but I’ve not ruled it out for a visit another time, even though it looks like I’d get stabbed as soon as I walked in and opened my mouth.

I find it easy enough with it’s bright green frontage in the precinct within the market and wander in. It’s a bakers right? Just like thousands of others up and down the country – they MUST sell pies?

THREE TIMES I ASK.

It might be the accent, I don’t know, but each time the Eastern European girl serving laughs a little louder, until she is openly cackling in my face like one of those double crossing Russian bond girls. She repeats the last word “Pies?” eventually adding a “no, no” at the third time of asking as if I’d just walked into a launderette by mistake and asked for a short back and sides.

“OK I’ll have a steak bite then”

Some climbdown. A sheepish retreat but I need summat to eat. It’s bizarre. She looked at me like I was some kind of madman. You know what a pie is don’t you? There’s a sit down type shop flogging it with mash around the corner?

It seems that in the East End of London there are rules: bakers sell bread, cakes and a selection of puff pastry type savoury products. If you want a pie, you go to a pie and mash shop and never the twain shall meet.

Far be it for me to question it, even though they then go and put eel liquor instead of gravy on their pie and choose to have the potato on the outside. I’ve learnt the hard way. Despite an aversion to fish, mushrooms, peppers and all other kinds of things which are probably good for you, I fear I may have to try a pie the Cockney way some time soon. In the meantime, I settle for scoffing this steak slice/bake/bite/pasty whatever they call it.

 

4.

Bakers: Percy Ingles

Shop visited: 15 Vessy Path, Crisp Street, Poplar, E14 6BT

Date of visit: 24th Jan 2012

The purchase: Steak bite £1.39

Other notable menu items: Cheese and Onion lattice, Chicken slice, beef and veg pasty, sausage roll. Oh and NO FUCKING PIES

 

THE SCORECARD:

Service: 7 Because she was pleasant enough even though she was dealing with a Northern simpleton

Filling: 6.5 OK I suppose

Crust & Pastry: 6 puff pastry as you’d expect

Taste: 8 I was taken in by this, it was actually steak

Value for Money: 6 London prices, what do you expect?

Warmth: 6 I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt on a cold day

Size: 8 yeah I’ll give them that one, not as deep as a pie but a hefty sized slab of pastry

OVERALL SCORE: 47.5/70. Just as you can’t compare apples with oranges, you can’t compare pies with pasties/slices/bakes/bites. But that was all they had so tough shit.

Postscript: Your intrepid adventurer did eventually seek out at least half a dozen decent pie shops in and around London and even savoured the delights of eel liquor as an accompaniment

 

The finer details:

Sadly, upon checking out Percy Ingles, it seems that they have permanently shut the doors of their 66 shops in recent months: Percy Ingle closing is another blow in working class London’s fight against gentrification (inews.co.uk)

Upon reading the above piece, it has had me rueing the fact, I have never tried a Tottenham cake and never will. But for those interested, here is a picture. If they don’t sell them at White Hart Lane, then they absolutely should do…..

I may not have been too happy that I couldn’t order a pie in their shops, but the fact that a traditional baker of many decades standing has shut down is indeed a sad day.

PS If you are in the area and have a hunger to sate, then the actual pie and mash shop on Chrisp Street is called Maureen’s pie and mash. They actually do home delivery. Hmm I wonder: https://maureenspieandmash.co.uk/

As you can see, I am slowly in the process of adding the hundreds of pie reviews I captured over the years. If you don’t want to wait a while, you can read all 314 reviews in Life of Pies for the bargain price of just £4.99 & P&P here

Read Chapter 3 of Life of Pies here

 

 

Taylor’s Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-04-06T12:04:53+01:00April 6th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , , |

Following my extensive review of Taylor’s Peppery Pie, I also tried a couple of their other top sellers.

The steak and ale will follow soon but I also sampled the large meat and potato pie, which is well padded with a creamy mash filling and sweet flavour. Again, there is lots of pepper present, to add a bit of seasoning, to the melt in the mouth mince and mash filling, although there are also some beautifully fresh chunks of potato in there.

The crust again holds together very well with a crunchy crust and a firm yet soft shortcrust base and sides. It is a little less heavy on the seasoning but still a very filling and tasty snack. Anyway, enough chat this time, simply enjoy the pictures!

The details

You can pick up Taylor’s pies from their shop at Leigh: Hill St, Leigh WN7 4DT, or for many stockists across the North west.

Website for more details: https://www.taylorsofleigh.co.uk/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taylorsbakeryleigh/

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Greenhalghs’ Butter Pie

By |2021-04-02T10:21:44+01:00April 2nd, 2021|Categories: Blog, Butter Pie, Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Ah yes, the butter pie: talk about a pie which divides opinions.

My personal opinion is that they are pleasant, but I’d always rather have a bit of meat in there if possible.

For the uninitiated, this is a pie made with butter, potato and onion. In much the same way as Friday is “chippy tea” day, the Butter pie was conceived as a way for all good Catholics to get a filling meal on the days when eating meat was forbidden. Good Friday, therefore represents the Holy Grail of all Fridays, if you’ll pardon the pun.

It’s origins appear to be in Preston or at least within Lancashire and I have written previously also about the “affordability factor”, namely that the pies around here are usually generously filled with potato mash and pepper and only sparsely populated with mincemeat, due to the expense, in a tradition that holds to this day.

Whereas the concept of a “butter pie” can repulse some people, even down the road in Wigan, as it sounds a bit too sickly, it is still much revered by Prestonians and the surrounding areas as a traditional treat. There are lots of bakers in the Lancashire areas, who are fine exponents of this delicacy including Galloways, Bowens and Rounds.

Today I’m sampling the Greenhalgh’s Butter Pie which costs £2.50 and, whereas Greenhalghs’ pies aren’t the cheapest, they are always of a very generous size. They also do a nice line in one off quirky flavours and a range of tasty soups too. A hefty vat of soup used to be my regular order from the Greenhalgh’s van that used to come to my office at lunchtime. Oo remembers offices, hey?

Anyway, the pie consists of a solid, shortcrust pastry with a soft, almost lattice style top crust. Inside, you will fine plentiful, large slabs of potato, laced with butter, seasoning and a bit of onion in there.

The best compliment I can give here is that it didn’t feel like there was something missing and it is intensely rich and filling, plus it keeps you in the good books, down at the local church.

The details
You can pick up Greenhalgh’s Pies from their shops across the North West or in Booths supermarkets. (Like you need an excuse to go to Booths!!)

Or they now have an online shop here: https://www.greenhalghs.com/savouries/pies/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreenhalghsCraftBakery/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Greenhalghs
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenhalghscraftbakery/

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Taylor’s Pepper Pie

By |2021-03-30T12:23:06+01:00March 30th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West|Tags: , , , , , , |

Well, well, we are still in lockdown so my movements are so limited, I can’t even get across to Leigh. However, with a bit of improvisation, it was possible for a few pastry shaped pieces of Leigh to come to me.

Cook & Foragers is a butchers based in Appley Bridge near Wigan who also sell pies. They sell them from the fantastic Bowen Pies (more on them here) but they also stock pies from a bakery called Taylors from Leigh.

I am unsure whether I have sampled these before. I once went on a mission around St Helens’ market and picked up a few pies from a stall called Cottams, and from what I understand, it may well have sold Taylor’s produce. What with me being a greedy get, I pointed at the biggest pie on display and bagged it.

It was only when I opened it up on a layby on the East Lancs, I noticed it appeared to be a touch bereft of a fully encased crust. It was, in fact, a Lancashire hot pot. It was a beautiful hot pot too, large and juicy inside and full flavoured.

But it wasn’t a pie. Time to rectify this matter.

As I hadn’t visited the bakery shop to pick these up due to lockdown, they were handed to me refrigerated. Nevertheless, I give the dome shaped crust a good old sniff before putting it in the oven  and the pastry smells magnificent, clearly composed of light, sweet, buttery texture that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Leigh and Wigan are around eight miles apart, but if Wigan is home of the meat and potato pie, Leigh it seems is the home of the pepper pie.

And Taylors have made traditional meat and potato pies and pepper pies the same way since 1938.

The concept behind the pepper pie is that meat and potato pies were often filled with cheap meat, so they required a bit of extra seasoning to take away the taste, or enhance it if you prefer.

These days of course, we all like a bit of spice in our food regardless so whereas the mince meat is of great quality, a bit of extra pepper is an added delight to warm you up on a cold spring day.

I remove the pie from the oven, and gently ease it out of the foil tray, with the casing still fully intact. The crust hem is remarkably sturdy but the top crust is delicate and has a fine aroma coming off it. Inside, there is a good inch so layer of potato mash, interspersed with mince meat.

There is a bit of airspace at the top, but as I am eating the pie the way that nature intended (i.e. by hand), the crust is holding it’s shape well and absorbing the filling with each mouthful. If any of the juicy, light coloured gravy looks like going rogue, I simply suck it up before it escapes on to the plate / floor / fingers.

I’m getting good hints of salt and pepper in there, adding a pleasant layer of extra flavour in there but not so much that it is too overpowering. The mince is tender and the potato is soft and golden, and the pie is piping hot throughout, after twenty minutes in the oven.

This is a substantially sized pie which does enough to fill me up and takes a while to get through even though I’m loving it. The pepper content seems to ratchet up even further as I finish off the last few pieces!

The details

The price is outstanding at just £1.40 for a large meat and potato pie and £1.50 for a steak and ale pie (to follow!).

You can pick up Taylor’s pies from their shop at Leigh: Hill St, Leigh WN7 4DT, or for many stockists across the North west.

Website for more details: https://www.taylorsofleigh.co.uk/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taylorsbakeryleigh/

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Life of Pies is a 380 page book all about pies, pick up a copy for just £4.99 plus p&p here

Bald Ambition: Road testing Baldy’s Pies

By |2021-03-05T12:44:04+00:00March 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Wigan|Tags: , , , , |

There I was, nervously sat in a deserted pub car park, unaware of the experience that lay ahead. I had been told to wait, flash my lights twice and a stranger would come over. Oh, hang on, wrong blog!!

Thing is, that’s not far off the truth and, it is a sight that has become commonplace throughout the hospitality industry over the past year. The world has changed immeasurably in the years, since I began gallivanting around the country eating pies. These days, the pies have to come to us. Which is why I find myself sat in the car park of The Crown pub and restaurant on a Thursday evening. Waiting for my tea to be delivered into the boot of my car.

That tea is being provided by the phenomenon that is BALDY’S PIES!! I’m loathe to use that word “pivot” but that is exactly what has happened in order for Baldy’s Pies to be created, as two chefs have turned their hands to producing sensational looking and tasting pies.
Now, pies in Wigan are two a penny as most of you well know, but we tend to specialise in the cheap end of the market. A pie is what you have for dinner (lunch, Southerners) as a snack not necessarily for tea (dinner!!) unless it is perhaps served as part of a larger meal.

Baldy’s emerged a few months ago and have quickly built up a cult following of over 7,000 fans on Facebook, by knocking out the sort of exceptional flavour and taste combinations that wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin starred restaurant. Do they serve pies in those sort of places? It’s out of my price range, so I guess I’ll never know.

Anyway, as it is British Pie week, they have gone back to basic with meat and potato, steak and Guinness and cheese flavoured pies, albeit they have added a gourmet twist to them, as you can see from the menu.

In previous weeks, they have delighted us with such flavour combinations as Big Jim’s Braised Shin of beef, bone marrow, confit shallots and pistachio. Or marinated and chargrilled chicken thigh Balti with spiced onion bhaji crumb. Coq au vin pie! Pork Lasagne Pie! Roast Dinner Pie!! A Shepherd’s Pie but with ACTUAL PASTRY SURROUNDING IT!! This last one alone could revolutionise the pie world, and not before time.

I can’t wait to go back in a few weeks and try some of these but for now let’s talk about their meat and potato pie. Or should I say Braised Steak, confit duck fat potatoes and thyme pie!!

WARNING: This is going to contain superlatives. I should point out that Baldies haven’t paid me for this review, I gladly paid them and would do so again!

The pies come in perfect packaging (all recyclable) but that gorgeous pastry smell is still managing to permeate through the well crafted box.
I actually feel a little nervous about assembling the ingredients on a plate in order to do it justice with my cack handed photography work.

The pie is of a decent height and diameter though, and it comes with a pot of gravy and two tubs of mash and marrowfat mushy peas.
There’s a bit of gravy in the bottom of the box, so I dab my finger and I am mesmerised. Is that syrup? Or a chocolate stout? It is so sweet tasting. It is actually what seems like a bottle of red wine, but it does the trick!

The crust holds it’s shape well, has a stunning, golden sheen to it, and a sticky soft texture in the mouth. The mash is soft and buttery with crispy onion crumbs on top, and my good lady wife declared it delicious.

 

I know it’s probably wrong to say it but I can take or leave mushy peas but despite still being in their casing, they are incredibly soft and melt in the mouth so easily and pleasantly.

Now to the interior, and this is unlike any meat and potato pie I have had before. For a start, it is definitely meat and potato, and not potato and meat, as many bakers have been told to rebrand!

It is generously packed with tender beef, slightly pink but so succulent and tasty. There is some potato in there but not so much as to take any detriment away from this from the high ratio of quality steak.

Of course, there is moisture on the plate in the form of peas, mash and gravy but even inside, the meat alone is sufficiently juicy to make your mouth water.

Once I’m in there and eating, I find it particularly difficult to stop and the whole plate is cleared in minutes. Not because it was a small portion but because I am ridiculously greedy. That and the fact it was soooooo good!!!

I don’t call myself a food critic but I suppose I should look to find some constructive criticism, in the interests of balance but I am struggling to find anything with the food itself.

I did ask for a Wigan Kebab (see above menu) and got a meat and potato served as a meal. I also think it would help if the boxes were labelled as I got a steak and Guinness pie too and cheese and onion and I had to guess which was which (though the cheese and onion was pretty bloody obvious!!)

Even so, these are mere administrative trivialities. These boys are getting their food spot on first and that is by far the most important matter.

Also, as I’m sure someone will point out, of course these pies are not cheap. But for £10, you a getting a meal, prepared not by a baker or a butcher but by two award winning chefs, whose many culinary secrets I can’t divulge. I think I’m safe to mention that the delicious gravy I mentioned takes two whole days to cook though!

Everything is prepared to perfection and I can only see Baldy’s going from strength to strength.

Give them a try if you live near or in Wigan, British Pie Week might be coming to an end but it’s always pie week in Wigan!! PS Their desserts look something special too.

You can look up Baldy’s on Facebook
Or visit their website
Follow them on Instagram

I ate and reviewed over 300 pies from across the country in my book Life of Pies, you can pick up a copy for just £4.99 plus p&p here: https://www.lifeofpies.co.uk/buy/

Baldy’s Cheese and Onion Pie

 

The Return of Dawson’s Crust

By |2021-03-04T13:11:10+00:00March 4th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide|Tags: , , , , , |

No, not Dawson’s Creek! Crust!! Anyway, it seems that after a few years’ closure, the legendary Dawson’s Bakery from the Leigh / Tyldesley / Atherton side of the Wigan Borough of Greater Manchester (written as such because both Wigan and Manchester will want to claim these pies as their own) has now re-opened.

Look, let’s cut to the chase here. Dawsons just make brilliant, traditional pies. They were one of the first pies I had to really blow me away. Their wares encapsulated everything I was looking for. A quest to capture the pies of my childhood, which you used to be able to smell wafting out from every corner bakery when I was a nipper in Wigan.

The peppery kick and free flowing juices in both the meat and meat and potato may take some adjusting to if you’re unfamiliar. A spicy, messy, fiery affair with the meat pie in particular, likely to result in hot molten jelly spitting out over you, the second you tip the pie up to put it into your mouth.

For now, I just wanted to share the first picture above. I used to take pics with a proper digital camera (well, a proper cheap one) before phones got mega-pixelled. I got gradually better as the quest rolled on. But this picture, well if it’s not a full on work of art, it is certainly highly visually appealing on the eye *proud face*

The NEW Dawson’s Pie shop is now open at 108A Market St, Greater, Atherton, Manchester M46
I’m also told that you can get Dawson’s Pies from their old premises in Hindley, now called Flapjacks and situated here: Chapel Green Rd, Hindley, Wigan WN2 3LL

Fill your boots!

You can find hundreds of pies like this in Life of Pies, a 380 page book in search of the nation’s best pie. Click here: https://www.lifeofpies.co.uk/buy/shop/ to buy for just £4.99 plus P&P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrights Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-03-02T12:07:24+00:00March 2nd, 2021|Categories: Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

It is British Pie Week, and it feels a little subdued, with a nation still in lockdown. There are still lots of pie suppliers out there offering a delivery service though, and often a discount should have fancy getting your gums around some golden pastry.

For now, let me take you back to chapter three of Life of Pies, with a rare excursion to the most northern bit of Stoke-On-Trent, and it doesn’t take long for this correspondent to get confused once he departs from his North West homelands…..

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

Got to keep up the batting average: now, where can I reasonably get to within my lunch hour without anyone noticing I’ve disappeared? I often do 12 hours days so if I take longer than an hour it’s not a huge deal but then there’s the side effects. Having a pastry heavy pie for lunch often lays a bit heavy on the stomach; I may as well have six pints I’ll be that lethargic. Like the IT developers who go to our canteen and polish off a full curry and apple custard and crumble for dessert. If I did that I’d be have my head on my desk all afternoon.

I’ve no idea how we managed before the internet. Yellow Pages I suppose. A couple of mates of mine used to go on pub crawls in towns and villages armed only with Yellow Pages, not knowing whether they’d get a warm welcome or stabbed upon entering each establishment. A great idea indeed, possibly even more fun than gallivanting around the country eating pies, but I won’t be going down that route. Some pubs are great, some pubs are lousy but pubs like pies deserve love. I do need to try and push it a bit given the missus hasn’t yet OK’d it for me to bugger off to Scotland for the weekend.

I decide on a bakery who are based in Crewe and serve the Potteries. I identify a place called Biddulph and it’s just the other side of Congleton, which I know is just a few miles away from work: 25 minutes each way, ten minutes to scoff a pie. Piece of piss. Plus I can probably cut a few minutes off that with a spot of demon driving down country lanes. It’s on Biddulph High Street, I’ve never heard of the place so it can only be a little village and will be a doddle to find once I get there.

Needlessly to say my naivety quickly finds me reversing down country lanes. I’ve got two sat Navs on my phone but they are both shit. Sheer panic sets in once or twice as I get hopelessly lost in places of Cheshire which I didn’t know existed. When I do find myself on the right track, I get stuck behind all manner of tractors, salt gritters and gun toting Farmer Palmers in Land Rovers, not to mention four Police motorbikes flying past, just as I am studiously waving the map about on my phone, in front of my seriously agitated little face.

Forty minutes and I’m still nowhere near and I consider that this might have to be an abortive mission but at that point the roads veers upwards to a viewpoint giving me a scintillating view of the whole of Staffordshire. I still haven’t a clue where I am but it’s a real Planet of the Apes moment.

Biddulph is massive and upon parking up in Sainsburys, I discover the High Street is at least half a mile long. Now to ascertain which way to walk: I’m looking for the big orange sign of Wrights but nothing jumps out at me. I then see a lad walking down the street with a couple of brown wrappers with writing on them: he’s been getting the pies in, GOOD LAD!! I trail his recent path. It’s only as I get closer that the truth is revealed by virtue of a large POVEYS OATCAKES sign above the window. I’m in Stoke country and I’ve just been had!

Some other time perhaps. I head back the other way past a Wetherspoons, with a few likely lads hanging about outside and it crosses my mind to ask them. I don’t and it’s just as well as I can’t tell a word they’re saying, as one shouts his head off to the other in that daft Potteries brogue.

I still can’t smell pies but keep walking, just as I look close to getting to the other end of the High Street, I find it. Except it’s not: it’s another pie shop, called bizarrely New Cooks. This is an interesting development and I’m torn. What now, do I go to both? Have I got time to do both? Pie shops like gift horses should not be looked in the mouth, their products should be placed in the mouth.

Maybe I just go to New Cooks, as it’s less of a chain than Wrights with their fifteen shops across Stoke and more likely to produce a better, more independent pie? Is it fair to represent two bakers from such a confined area only for me to potentially miss out a large city completely later down the line like Bristol or Portsmouth if I can’t find anywhere to procure a decent pie from? These early moral dilemmas will shape my mission and my instinct tells me to stick to Plan A, in order to fully absorb myself in the Wrights Pie experience and make a note of the other one in my pie master spreadsheet as one for the future. Time is on my side.

I eventually find Wrights another hundred or so yards down the street, right at the far end. Pie procured, tempted though I am by the offer of Staffordshire lobbies (hot pot) with peas and gravy and on my way. The pie is raging hot, if Art Garfunkel walked in here he’d probably sing “Wrights Pies, burning like fire”

Sorry. By this point I need a wee and pop in the bogs by Sainsburys, a very sleek cylindrical affair. As if I didn’t have enough of a phobia already with public conveniences, there’s grunting coming from one of the cubicles and a bloke with a flat cap comes and has a wee next to me, immediately initiating conversation about the weather. I need to get out of here!!

 

3.

Purveyor: Wrights

Premises: Crewe

Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.30

Place: 7 Pastry: 6.5 Presentation: 8 Package: 8 Palate: 7 Price: 7.5 Portion: 8

OVERALL: 52/70 An above average size pie, with a crust which had a lovely feel to it, but wasted no time introducing me to Mr Heartburn. A delightful, powerful aroma came off it which veritably stunk my car out. A fine mix of fresh, almost green potato and generous meat content, which retained its heat superbly. Slight amount of airspace at the top giving it an aircraft hangar type effect but overall a valiant effort.

 

The finer details:

The original review took place on Monday 23rd January 2012. It transpires that the shop is still there but has been sold to Woods Catering. I took the liberty of ringing the shop and they do still sell meat and potato pies and use a combinaton of Wrights Pies and their own.

I have also sampled Wrights Pies at the DW Stadium, as they were official pie supplier for a while and the chicken Balti pie is indeed a cracker, albeit it was priced at considerably more than £1.30 in a football ground!

Current pricing (March 2021)

Potato and meat pie £1.70 (Woods Catering in Biddulph)

Website: Wrights: Wholesale Pies | Pastries | Quiches | Pastry And Shell Supplier | Wrights Food Group

Twitter: Wrights Food Group (@WrightsFoodGrp) / Twitter

Facebook: Wrights Pies | Facebook

Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

As you can see, I am slowly in the process of adding the hundreds of pie reviews I captured over the years. If you don’t want to wait a while, you can read all 314 reviews in Life of Pies for the bargain price of just £4.99 & P&P here

 

 

Steve’s Chicken Curry Pie

By |2021-02-05T13:31:39+00:00February 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Now then. Time for a little something different. A mate of mine, Johnny Stafford, who acquired my previous book, the Life of Pies, some years back, had a neighbour who makes his own pies.

What started as a hobby turned into a passion with Steve taking them into work for his colleagues to try. I have got to say I’ve tried five of them now and they are all fantastic. The man has a talent!!

Here is a review I did for Steve’s steak and veg pie, which was the first one I tried: Steve’s Steak and Veg Pie

I have actually eaten three more different ones since then, with the tasting notes saved somewhere but while this particular one is fresh in my mind, let’s dive in…..

The first thing that takes you back is the size and weight of it. In truth, it is possibly enough for two people. But the first rule of pie club is that WE DO NOT SHARE PIES!!

This also rules it out of entry to the British Pie awards, not only because it is not commercially available but as Steve has confirmed it is over the regulation 600 grammes in weight.

Being a professional, well, a dedicated amateur, he has been in touch throughout, checking on the status of the pie. What with it being in his freezer for a few months due to lockdown, then also in mine for several months, Steve was concerned the pie might no longer be at it’s best. I can confirm this was not the case, it was absolutely fantastic, in many ways, just like all of his efforts.

The pie is of a familiar shape, flat sided with a sturdy top crust. You may notice that the top crust has fallen away a wee bit at the sides, probably due to minor freezer degradation. However, after 20 mins in the oven, the texture is perfect, with that all important crunch I’ve so missed*, clearly evident. Closely followed by a softer, doughy shortcrust interior which is gently infused with the moisture from the filling.


*Yeah I did the whole “it’s January, best get a few pounds off after consuming three times my bodyweight in food, alcohol and snacks over the festive period”. Sorry.

As for the filling, well it is packed to the rafters with chicken, peas, onions, peppers and herbs, all mixed in with a lightly moist gravy. That alone, is arguably enough, but Steve kindly provided me with an individual pot of home made curry sauce to pour on, which he makes using the juices from the meat.

The curry sauce is out of this world, it knocks most chip shop curry sauces into a hat, and it has a fair kick to it as well. I pour it on half to try and get a with/without taste but basically end up dipping my fork in it throughout.


The whole pie is cleared up in a matter of minute but it is intensely tasty and satisfying. I have mentioned previously that these pies would go down a storm if they were made commercially, Steve like most of us, has a day job to contend with.

So in the meantime, all you can do, is join our Facebook group or get in touch with me, and beg him to make you one if you are based in the North West. They are WELL WORTH IT, trust me.

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