The Crofters Tavern Steak and Ale Pie

By |2021-09-01T15:25:28+01:00September 1st, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Steak Pie|Tags: , , , , , , |

We spend a lot of time up in the Lakes, and whereas, on a good day, it is only an hour or so up the M6, on a bank holiday weekend, it can take three hours of snarly traffic each way. Upon getting kicked out of our accommodation mid morning, we first stopped at the Rheged Centre for pork pies (more on those later!) and by the time, it hits early afternoon, we had barely got past Lancaster.

So, time to pull off the M6 onto the A6 to find a random place that feeds children. We stopped in Garstang on the way up and paid a trip to Booths, and the drag from Lancaster to Preston usually has a smattering of decent pubs on it’s course. With the time gone 2pm and the kids (and me) getting tetchy, we pulled over and called upon The Crofters Tavern, with a wide, open front and pleasant looking terrace outside.

It is part of a hotel complex but the interior has some low hanging wood beams and is highly decorative. I am impressed by the beer range, with Camden’s, Goose Island, Budvar and Lowenbrau on tap along with a range of hand pulls, including some from the local Bowland brewery. However, it is food we are here for, and a man with my reputation can’t be seen to go too long without a pie, so I am delighted to see “HAND CRAFTED TAVERN PIES” available in a highlighted box.

There is a choice of steak and ale or cheese and onion, so I plump for the former and a pint of Goose Island Midway pale ale to accompany it. Well, I am on my holidays!

The service is good and the food arrives in reasonable time, and it is visually appealing. It is, as advertised, hand crafted with a plait-style crust formed by hand.

The pie, or the Cumbrian Steak and JW Lees Ale Hand Crafted Tavern Pie to give it it’s full title, comes with some plump, golden chips, a mound of garden peas and a ramekin full of gravy.

Upon cutting it, I am hit with a sweet, hoppy smell as the braised steak is infused with dark ale. There are amply quantities of thick chunks of soft meat inside and you really can taste the ale marinated in the meat.

After a while, I pour over the gravy and there are plenty bits of meat and stock remnants in there, this has clearly not come from a tub of Bisto granules. It is definitely a “knife and fork” pie. Due to the curious shape of the crust, it breaks up into slithers, so that you can pair it up with a piece of meat and soak it up with the gravy.

In any case, I’m not brave enough to pick up a pie and eat it with my hands, whilst having a meal with my wife and children in a pub. I get enough stick when I pull my phone out to take a sneaky pic.

Overall, a very filling and satisfying meal. I still nicked a load of my daughters’ chips which they didn’t finish but that is not because I wasn’t full, it’s just WHAT I DO 😊


The finer details

Date: 30th August 2021

Price: The price was £11.95, which is about standard for a sit down pub meal of pie and chips

Address: Crofters Hotel, A6 Cabus, Garstang, Lancashire, PR3 1PH

Website: https://www.croftershotel.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/croftershotel/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thetaverngarstang/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CroftersHotel
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Cheers!

McGraddie’s Scotch pie

By |2021-08-26T12:24:18+01:00August 26th, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Scotch Pie|Tags: , , , |

John W McGraddie’s Butchers Scotch pie

Scotch pies are popular in the central areas of Scotland. They have a distinctive tin shaped side to them and a loosely placed top crust. They are usually made with mutton and heavily seasoned with salt and other spices. In some senses, they are not dissimilar to the pies of my youth in North west England and originate from working class roots.

I’ve got four of these and I have been advised that they should be eaten with Beans or Marrowfat peas on top but this one is going to be done au naturelle, so that I can actually examine and review the pie closely as to what it tastes like.

Firstly, I am eternally grateful to Paul aka @NorthernCasual for picking these up for me on a trip up North, and also to Glaswegian @BarcaJim for the recommendation. The only downside to me not being there myself, is that I don’t get to savour the on premise ambience of a traditional butchers.

According to Jim, they are not hugely famous, just a very well respected local family butcher. Their steak pies are exceptionally good and hugely popular around New Year when it’s the traditional Hogmanay scran. As you’d expect, they do square sausages, indeed the full lorne, which Jim used to get imported to Barcelona when he lived there (I had to ask for the picture below….LOOK AT IT!!!!)

Back to the Scotch pie and as I pull the pie out of the oven, I get a glorious waft of buttery pastry. The pie is a bit on the smaller side but as mentioned, standard protocol is to double up and add your choice of topping.

I love the look of the pie, with it’s uneven top and sides, and razor sharp crust lip. Probably not the best idea to stick your teeth directly into that, I reckon, if eating by hand, it is best to approach it at a right angle.

Even if it is made in a tin (and I’m not sure to be honest), that lack of uniformity shows something that is traditional, home made and unique.

Inside there is a healthily thick slab of minced mutton, pinkish grey in cover and the meat is rich, chewy and juicy, with a slightly salty aftertaste. Easily eaten by hand, though it is best to turn on the side to get a bit of the crunchy side crust.

Obviously, I have gone a bit off track by not adding sides or condiments, but there is plenty moisture inside to not need that at all, and a gentle sprinkling of salt on the top crust and inside.

My biggest regret is not putting two in the oven as my mouth is watering for more as I polish the first one off. Just as well, I’ve got three more in the fridge then really.

The finer details

Price: As I didn’t buy this myself, I’m not sure of the exact price, but I am told that most standard sized pies retail between £1.00 and £1.50 each

Address: 8 Minard Rd, Glasgow G41 2HN

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/John-W-McGraddie-Butchers-611777682173656

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

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Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie

By |2021-08-03T11:43:47+01:00August 3rd, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Let me come clean from the start, I was heading to Booth’s primarily to get a La Trappe glass to pour my La Trappe keg of beer into. I’d had a tip off, that they had some nifty Benelux based glassware in. However, a trip to Booth’s always seems to mean buying more than I came for. Booth’s are a supermarket, predominantly based in the North of England, and mainly found in quite affluent market towns. This means it isn’t cheap but the produce on offer is absolute quality throughout.

If I was to get imprisoned in a building with no escape, then so long as it was the food hall at Booth’s, I think I’d survive. The beers, wines, cheese and deli counters are simply stunning, and that is where I find myself today, politely pointing at the pie I want.

It is a chilli pork pie from Topping’s Pies, a long standing supplier to Booth’s over the years. Doncaster based Topping’s do a wide range of pies, both wholesale and retail. They have carved out a niche in this supermarket for their pork pies, both standard ones and pork plus something else: pork and black pudding, pork and chorizo, pork and scrumpy, pork topped with cranberry or, in this case, speciality chilli pork pie.

The pie costs £2.50, and is wrapped and chilled, and that is how it stays as I pop it into the fridge as I get home.

Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie
Purchased from Booth’s Supermarket, Burscough
Price £2.50

The first thing that I notice is that this is a deceptively heavy one! The dark brown crust has a decorative leaf and a little porthole, giving us a glimpse of what hides inside. Is it a pork pie with chilli? Or a chilli con carne pork pie? Would that even work served cold?

It requires a big knife to cut open, as it is solid throughout, with a firm, well cooked base. There is a thin layer of jelly in the casing but otherwise it is wall to wall, fine sausage meat, with a few red flecks of chilli moulded into the filling. I was perhaps a little surprised to see red and green pepper in the ingredients, I want hot peppers!! I can’t even taste them as it transpires, the spice is underlying and subtle rather than distinct.

From the very first bite, once I munch into the sticky crust, I encounter a pleasant bit of heat. It’s not so overpowering that you can’t taste the succulent pork filling though. In fact, the two combine well to melt in the mouth, along with the juicy jelly. As mentioned, there was little doubt this pie was going to be good. You don’t get onto the deli counter at Booth’s unless you are half decent.

This is a deceptive, generous pie which perhaps could be shared, if indeed, you approve of such things. I find my bites getting smaller even as I finish the first half of it. The flavour continues it’s consistency with the chilli tickling along and without ramping up the in-mouth temperature. In summary, served and eaten at room temperature from the fridge, it is a little firecracker of an effort from Topping’s, who are long standing masters of the pork pie game.

The finer details:

Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie purchased on Saturday 31st July 2021
Price £2.50 from Booth’s Supermarket, Burscough, Lancashire, L40 8AD

Website: https://www.toppingspies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/toppings_pies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toppingspies/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toppings_pies/
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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
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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/

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

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

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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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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
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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