Burchall’s Pork Pie

By |2021-11-23T12:09:23+00:00November 23rd, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, North West, Pies, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , |

I recently found myself in St Helens (not in that sense) and with a rumbling tummy, it felt like there was only one place to divert myself towards.

Burchall’s produce one of the best pork pies in the North West, if not the country (they came joint top in Life of Pies, sharing the spoils with Hopkins of Birkenshaw and Percy’s of Barnsley) Not only that, it is a local institution, so I felt obliged to check that it was still alive and thriving, several years after my first visit.

I turned up just after 1.30pm, with Saturday being an early closing at 2pm but I was delighted to see the proprietor, John Burchall, behind the counter and a tray of fresh pies in the window.

There were two people in front of me inside, one lady in front was ordering two pork pies because, in her words “I’m going out for a few scoops to the Mason’s later and I love scoffing these when I get in later”

Amen to that!

I order two pies because one is never enough, with the current price being £1.80 and devour one of them immediately in the car.

Now, these pies are famously served hot out of the oven and barely have the time to cool down before they are swooped up by their ravenous patrons. However, with this being later in the day, the pie had cooled a bit, so I didn’t suffer the glorious phenomenon of hot molten jelly dribbling down my chin or shirt sleeve. I managed to get the second pie home without eating it, at which point, I popped it in the oven for ten minutes to get the full “cooling from the oven” experience.

The pastry is, of course of the hot water variety: thin but full flavoured and tender, with jelly glistening inside and out. The meat is grey and pinkish but exceptionally soft and juicy to bite into, with a peppery kick to it. The signage on the walls is keen to point out that the meat content is much higher than the accepted pie standard.

It is another one, like the Scotch pie, where you are best served turning the pie on it’s side to eat by hand, as the crust lip is crunchy compared to the soft top crust. This also helps maintain the jelly on the pie, and if any does fall on to the plate* then you can use the edge of the pie to mop it back up.

*And if you don’t have a plate, unlucky! A trip to A&E awaits!

This is just a beautiful pie, made to a recipe that never changes and is loved by locals and occasional visitors alike. This is, in essence, everything I went searching for in Life of Pies and am now looking to follow up with in it’s sequel.

Long may Burchalls thrive, continue and prosper.

The finer details

Date: 20th November 2021
Price: £1.80 for a pork pie
Address: 24 Westfield St, Saint Helens WA10 1QF
Website/social media: They don’t do that kind of thing!

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Rheged Centre Pork and Black Pudding Pie

By |2021-09-10T13:33:18+01:00September 10th, 2021|Categories: Pork Pie|Tags: , |

The Rheged Centre is a shopping complex just off junction 40 of the M6 by Penrith, and has a great little deli counter which is actually in the petrol station. As you’d expect, it also serves a fine range of craft ales, gins and jams and sauces, so I am more than in my element.

There are hot options available, but the cold pork pies are what I have been craving, after a failed trip to Pooley Bridge (I’ll be back!!) So I opt for the Gloucester Old Spot pork pie and the pork and black pudding pie, both selling at £2.30 each.

They are average sized for a single pork pie, and definitely hand made, given the uneven shape, delivering an intriguing looking crust.

The crust feels a little tough so upon arriving home, I pop it in the oven for 15 minutes, before letting it cool back down to something like room temperature.

It enables the aroma of the light brown hot water crust to breathe. It softens it up for the chomp and it smells excellent, almost fruity. Upon cutting in half, the black pudding is equally as prominent as the pork meat

The pork is moderately seasoned and the black pudding is both sweet and fruity, and both fillings consist of a gentle texture. There is no blood aftertaste with the pudding, just a herby, moist flavour. Though if I have a small criticism, it is the absence of jelly which will always add a bit of moisture to any pork pie, if we discount the adding of additional condiments, such as brown sauce or mustard.

The Rheged Centre filling station also has a range of hot pies, I noticed minced beef and onion and meat and potato pies. Plus it also sells those ridiculously fat sausage rolls which have a good inch and a half of meaty goodness in the middle.

Of course, the Rheged Centre is just a few miles up the road from Tebay, and the Gloucester old spot pork pie, definitely leads me to believe they are part of the same chain, but fortunately I bought one of those as well…

The old spot is a rare, geographically protected type of pig, which predictably is white with dark spots. The pork meat is traditionally fattier and sweeter, due to the tradition of pigs munching on apples falling from the orchards where they graze.

Again, I warm it up gently to soften the pie and the soft crust glistens gently as I bite into it. The pinkish grey sausage meat is exceptionally tender. It’s soft, sweet and tangy, only broken up with the occasional peppery after kick. There is a thin layer of jelly sprinkled around the edges, which moistens the crust interior. For a dinky pie, it certainly is a rich and filling experience.

The finer details

Date: 30th August 2021

Price: The price was £2.30 for an individual sized pork pie, cooling on the deli counter

Address: Redhills, Penrith CA11 0DQ

Website: https://rheged.com/filling-station/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rheged/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rheged_centre/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rhegedcentre

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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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