Sargeants Minced Meat Pie

By |2024-02-24T13:01:10+00:00February 24th, 2024|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Meat Pie, North West|Tags: , , , |

As per my previous blog, I picked up a trio of products from Sargeants of Leigh last week, and now the (Peppered) Meat and Potato has been done and dusted, let us see what the minced meat pie has to offer (£1.50)

It is a little bit dinkier, as you’d expect for the price and meat filling, but still a reasonable size. Once again, I plop it on to the plate and see how intact it remains. The golden pastry holds firm, and just like the Sargeant pepper, it has a sturdy but gentle, leathery texture.

Inside, the gravy is much darker this time and the contents are jam packed, full of tender mincemeat chunks. Once again, you have to take your hat off to the independent pie shops of Leigh for conjuring up such a perfect little meal wrapped in a golden gift of shortcrust pastry.

For those of you whom this applies (Northerners mainly), whereas I have kept a fork on standby, it is also perfectly adequate to eat by hand, given the robust pastry. So I polished off the second half with minimal spillage, either on my jumper or the plate. In summary, another little belter and if you like your pies big, cheap and full of fiery, peppery seasoning, then the “Leigh Pie Triangle” (Sargeants, Taylors, Claphams and let’s chuck in Dawsons from nearby Atherton for good measure) is where it’s at.

Finally, I mustn’t forget the Millionaire Shortbread Slice test. (£1.50) In terms of size, it is a very hefty slab, a good two to three inches square. In terms of ratios, I like a bit more caramel in there, and this is 70% shortbread. The chocolate is decent and rich in flavour, but again, I’d like the caramel a little softer, this has a got a bit of a Chomp type texture to it. It’s sweet but not sickly sweet, which I how I like it (certainly when I’m eating it, maybe not afterwards)

The shortbread is soft and slightly crumbly, but I have no qualms about standing over the bin, tipping the crumbs off the plate into my hand when I’m done, to collect the remnants. The pies were brill, the shortcake above average, 7 out of 10. We might not be millionaires but we can feel like one if we’re eating one of these little beauties…

The finer details

Review date: 15th February 2024

Price: £1.50 for a Sargeant’s Minced Meat Pie (and £1.50 for a Millionaire slice

Address:  57-59 Leigh Rd, Leigh WN7 1QZ


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M&S Best Ever Steak Pie

By |2023-08-04T15:34:30+01:00August 3rd, 2023|Categories: Blog, Steak Pie|Tags: , , , , |

I got this a while back and I am currently in the process of emptying my freezer of pies. So, there needs to be a brief disclaimer that it might not be in the best condition but surely if it’s so good, it won’t degrade that much by being on my pie shelf for a few months?

It’s a pie which serves two but as we know by now, I rarely share pies and I reckon it cost the best part of six quid. It takes a good 35 minutes in the oven but I get a fair buttery waft coming off the delightful hand raised crust

The filling is incredibly dark and juicy, with a sweet flavour emanating from it and soaks nicely into the soft buttery, flaky crust. The side and base are cooked to perfection and there’s not much spare capacity in there. I can see lots of chunks of rich, dark, moist beef, a bit of mushroom and perhaps a bit of bacon and onion.

The pastry is incredibly lardy and sweet, to the extent that I can still smell it in the kitchen the next day. All in all, this is a satisfying rich and opulent pie, and you’d expect nothing less from M&S. The best ever steak pie? For M&S maybe, but the best ever steak pie anywhere. We’ll see……

Taylor’s of Trentham Pork Pie

By |2023-03-13T17:11:44+00:00March 13th, 2023|Categories: Blog, Midlands, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , , |

Prior to my annual pilgrimage to Melton Mowbray, I got in touch with the fantastic Stoke fanzine, Duck magazine, and asked if any of it’s readers could provide me with a few tips for decent Potteries pies. Of course, I should try oatcakes really but this is a pie blog, I’ve nothing against them, indeed I could quite fancy one, depending on the filling but it’s British Pie Week, not British Oatcake Week.
The reason for the location is firstly, that it is on the way to Melton Mowbray, and secondly, I’ve perhaps not done this area justice in the past, other than going for the ubiquitous Wright’s Pies.

So stop number one was Taylor’s Butchers, situated in a residential part of Trentham. I find it in what seems a quiet, suburban area, but at 8.30am, it is peak school run time, so I dump the car a few hundred yards away and walk the rest.

The shop is perhaps a bit smaller than I expected, but there’s lots of fantastic looking cuts of meats on display: all the BBQ specials, burgers, sausages and seasoned chicken breasts and gourmet ready meals. It is only when I look behind me I see the pies, and find a good mix of plate pies and pork pies. The uniformed shape pork pies seemed to be in a pack of four, so I left them and went for the round, parcel type variety. What I mean by this is that, often, on this side of the Midlands (West/North not East) the pork pies are even more bow shaped than in Melton, almost completely round in fact, with the crust turned right in.

I then plumped for a plate pie after some deliberation. The lamb and potato pie tickled my fancy, as did the myriad of steak combinations (Guinness, stilton, ale and so on) but I try and think of the family when I buy a plate pie, so I went for the Chicken, Bacon and Leek pie, as something I can share half of with the better half.

Of course, upon arrival at the Pie Awards a couple of hours later, I found that I would be spending the afternoon judging in the Chicken and other meat category, which were nearly all chicken and some kind of pork meat. Oh well, I know sympathy isn’t forthcoming here!

The price was seven quid combined, so let’s guess at £2 for the pork pie and £5 for the plate pie. The service was prompt, a pleasant young chap with very colourful artwork on his sleeves. I was in and out promptly, which was fine by me, given the lengthy pie based “to do list” I had pulled together.

I eat the pork pie the next day, the pastry still smells very fresh. The crust has a lovely colour to it, and the pastry is thick and soft and it is very well baked, consistent throughout. The meat is quite gentle and smooth, mainly pink in colour and with greyish edges. However, jelly fans look away now: as you can see, there is next to no jelly in here apart from possibly a thinnish layer clinging to the crust interior.

The meat filling is nevertheless ample and fresh with slight peppery undertones. Overall, solid but not spectacular. Furthermore, I suspect this pork pie might actually be made by Winkle’s of Wolverhampton given the similarity.

Given the other pie I procured was made by “Bev’s Bakery”, it is quite possible that this was also bought in from elsewhere but nevertheless I enjoyed the pork pie because, I mean who doesn’t love a pork pie?

The Bev’s Bakery chicken and bacon pie will be road tested for tea shortly and I will report back. I also got a decent stash of pies from Parker’s of Meir on my A50 pie tour, of which I am expecting VERY GOOD things indeed


The finer details
Review date: 9th March 2023
Price: £2.00 from Taylor’s Butchers, Trentham
Address: The Lea, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 8DY



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Pukka Pepperoni Pizza Pie

By |2023-01-12T16:17:26+00:00January 12th, 2023|Categories: Other Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

This one appeared on my timeline before Christmas, and was received with what might best be described as a ‘mixed’ response. “Stop messing with food” as Partridge might say. My own opinion veered between being both horrified and intrigued, but nevertheless I felt duty bound to check it out.

I picked one up from Tesco in December and put it in the freezer till the New Year. You can cook this pie from frozen but I defrosted it first overnight. Now, it looks a good sized pie, and surprisingly not too calorie dense (500ish??) for a pizza in a pie.

The chief ingredients are pepperoni, cheese and tomato, and considering I put another pie in the oven at the same time (the chicken one I had last week, her turn to try it) all I can smell is a pizza in a crust baking away in the oven.

I’m not sure how I feel about it as a concept, but all I’ll say is that, flavour wise, I am always going to go for that type of pizza when I’m out. Yes, I’m one of those savages who always has the mighty meat feast, or diavola. Anything with chillis on it, loads of meat and perhaps a bit of n’duja sausage.

So let’s dive in to this Pukka Pepperoni Pizza Pie, which scores highly for alliteration, if nothing else…..

Things don’t get off to a great start, as there is significant top crust leakage on to my ancient baking tray. I scoop up a few spoonfuls of filling and get a good mouthful of sweet tomato sauce and mini pepperoni slices to chew on.

This, unfortunately does have the effect of the pie only looking half full (or half empty if you prefer!) when I eventually cut into it. The pastry is very flaky puff pastry, did I read 180 layers somewhere?? However, this again, usually means that it can’t be filled to the top, as puff pastry tends to expand in the oven.

It is definitely an ‘on the plate’ job rather than handheld, unless you want millions of flakes all over your shirt, and I’m not quite sure what to serve it with, other than the standard chips and veg. Gravy feels wholly inappropriate for a pie of this style.

The volume of filling, as noted above, is a touch disappointing not withstanding the bit that sneaked out of the top crust, but flavour wise, it does what it says on the tin. It is literally a pizza topping / toppings(s) within a pie casing, and it tastes pretty decent, I’m getting a Chicago Town Pizza vibe from it.

Speaking of which, I hear that Chicago Town are doing a steak and kidney pizza……

The finer details
Review date: 11th January 2023
Price: £2.00 from Tesco
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Lidl Chicken and Prosecco Pie

By |2023-01-07T11:55:31+00:00January 7th, 2023|Categories: Chicken pie|Tags: , , , , |

There were a choice of two in our house for these new(ish) Lidl pies, and of course, in our house, I’m always last pick.

The options were this Chicken and Prosecco Pie and also a Curried Chickpea Pie. So this is not so much the loser’s pie but second choice for me as my wife went for the curried chickpea. Keen followers have already noticed that the chickpea one appears to be absent of a pastry top crust, thereby kicking it out of pie club, but it looks too good for me not to chance upon it next time.

Onto, my pie of (not) choice then. The chicken and prosecco Deluxe pie promises chicken in a Prosecco and parmigiano sauce, so there is definitely an Italian theme coming off here. It claims to be a shortcrust lid on the box, but it is actually a very tall, almost bouffant top at that and certainly looks more puff pastry to me.

Off to the oven it goes, and I get a marvellous buttery scent coming my way 2/3rds of the way through cooking time. Upon it’s emergence, I flip it over and out of the foil tray after a bit of coaxing and just the tiniest bit of pastry is left stuck to it, which I scrape off.

The crust is a lovely golden colour, enhanced by the herby topping but, alas, disaster is about to unfold. When there’s a heavy top crust, the pies tends to collapse underneath when you cut it in half, and this in indeed the case here. The obvious, more aesthetic solution to preserve it’s form would be to eat the pie upside down, but that’s just crazy talk.

The bottom line is that when I cut a pie in half, I expect it to resemble two halves of a pie, not a splattered mess.

The crust certainly has some decent flavour to it and the filling also does the business, with bountiful lumps of chicken in a creamy, cheesy sauce. I can’t honestly detect prosecco without the fizz but I can taste a slight, dry, sharp white wine flavour within the rich sauce. There’s also ample slithers of spinach in there, and there’s no harm in that, it was good enough for Popeye after all.

There’s no denying that the crust structure is a bit of a visual disappointment, and partly the reason why I always think shortcrust pastry works better than it’s puff cousin. It is still a satisfying pie though, saved by the fresh chicken and tasty sauce, there is the odd mouthful where the cheese gets really tangy and it’s quite heavenly in fact. Otherwise, it didn’t blow me away but a worthy pie served up with chips and veg.

The finer details
Review date: 6th January 2023
Price: The price was £2.49, praise the Lord for digital receipts
I’m not going to list all the other details because it’s Lidl and if you haven’t heard of Lidl or you don’t have one close to you, you must be living on the moon 😊
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Get a copy of the original GPG this Xmas!

By |2022-12-15T17:50:50+00:00December 15th, 2022|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

It’s that time of year when I get a steady trickle of orders for Life of Pies. It is over 8 years old now but still garners a bit of attention, because there is nothing else like that out there, in book form at least.

You can pick up a copy for just £4.99 plus P&P, either for yourself or for someone who might appreciate it. It is a weighty affair with a good sprinkling of FULL COLOUR PIE PHOTOS in it.

All in all, it is over 380 pages and documents a light hearted journey around the country in search of the perfect pie.

I’ve got a box and a half left, mainly in good condition.

I’m not currently selling on Amazon. It’s really not worth my while, to have to turn orders around in 24 hours to make about a quid on each book, but it might return at some point in the future, when I get time. In the meantime, you can only buy from the site here.

Retail price is £9.99 but I’m selling off at half price as it was published back in 2014 so the factual stuff is a little dated. I’m sad to say that over that period of time, quite a lot of pie makers have ceased trading, and for those that continue, the prices have shot up quite a bit, for reasons I’m sure we are all aware of.

However, there are still plenty of little gems in there to be unearthed though and it makes a cracking read regardless, even if I do say so myself. And on the plus side, plenty of new pie producers have started up around the country and are producing some fabulous looking pastry products. (for more on that, see below!)

So, if you wish to buy a copy and you want to guarantee delivery before Christmas, please order by Friday 16th December from the Pie Shop here

And if you are interested in the next chapter, indeed the next PIE BOOK, I am now working on a follow up titled THE GOOD PIE GUIDE.

I’m around a quarter of the way through writing it and will spend most of next year researching the rest (yep a tough gig, I know)

For now, all ask is that you help support me by following me on social media at the following places:


Facebook page:
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Thank you and Merry Christmas!!
Martin Tarbuck
Life of Pies author

Wilfred’s Saucy Cow Pie

By |2022-10-01T14:06:49+01:00September 30th, 2022|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Steak Pie, Wales|Tags: , , , , , |

It has been a while, and time to delve into another fantastic pie from Wilfred’s. These wonderfully packaged, gourmet style pies are of a good size and always full of quality ingredients. They deliver across the country and you can get a box of four Saucy Cows (or a small herd if you prefer) for £14.50 delivered to your door.

They are produced by a company based in Swansea called Lewis Pies & Pasties and their range of flavours is something to behold, many of them with a local twist: The Gower Cwtch Pie (Steak & Horseradish); Steak and Red Pie (Beef Bourguignon); a Chicken, Leek and Taffy Apple Cider Pie; and there is also a Cheesy Chicken, Leek, Potato & Spinach Pie. For veggies they also offer a Spicy Cauliflower and Spinach Balti Pie. The impressive list goes on and on, and they also do pasties and desserts.

On to the Saucy Cow, and this is their take on a Steak and Ale pie, infused with mustard and sweet Welsh ale. I cannae wait!

The pie is of similar dimensions to the Beef Bourguignon pie, I reviewed here. Which means that the crust is the star of the show once again. Multi-layered, crusty and flaky but not so much that it falls to pieces, it is just wonderfully crisp and buttery.

It is a very deep pie but with such a thick top crust, it piles into the filling a little, making it drop in height when you cut into it. It is well baked throughout however and lovely and moist without being soggy.

Now on to that filling and there’s no filler in here, it is bustling with tender chunks of soft beef, wrapped in a creamy, light sauce. I’ll wager this was made with a golden ale, given the lightness and sweet flavour of the gravy.

So you really don’t need to add any gravy as well, but if you got served this up in a pub with chips, veg and gravy, it would undoubtedly form an excellent part of a substantial meal. This is a really tasty pie, consistently flavoured throughout and a great texture to the meat. I’m very sad when it’s all gone and craving another, not that I’d be able to finish it.

Review date: 1st October 2022
Price: Prices for a box of four can range from £13.00 to £14.50. This box retails at £14.50 for four (£3.62 each to be precise)
Address: Units 3-6 Abergelly Road, Fforestfach, Swansea SA5 4DY
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Project Pies Steak Pie

By |2022-09-11T09:04:07+01:00September 11th, 2022|Categories: Blog, Midlands|Tags: , , , , , |

In what can only be described as a moment of sadness, it’s time for the last of the Project Pies collection I picked up in Nottingham earlier this year, and to add to the suspense, I have no idea what flavour it will be. Nevertheless, it still looks in immaculate condition, considering its been in my freezer a few months.

Towards the end of the oven cycle, I get the most stunning waft of shortcrust pastry and it comes out beautifully cooked from top to bottom. Still don’t know what is inside it, mind you, possibly a darker steak pie?

Time for the big reveal and I am quickly under no illusion that this pie is steak, steak and nothing but the steak. Huge, whopping great big lumps of it come tumbling out. This review nearly gets brought to a premature end as the chunks are so big that I nearly choke on one of them in my eagerness to neck this beautiful beef.

I quickly make an executive decision to break with protocol and make a bit of Bisto to go with it. Usually I avoid gravy and condiments, as I want to focus 100% on the pie flavour but this is a pie so packed with meat that there’s no room for any gravy or sauce inside it, so I pour gravy over half of it to enhance and serve it as it was meant to be. I should add that there is plenty of moisture inside when I delve deeper, especially in the roof of the pie and that the pastry encasing it tastes wonderfully soft and buttery as well.

Overall, a wonderfully meaty pie capable to satisfying the heartiest of appetites. I can’t wait to get back to the fine city of Nottingham to sample more of these.

The finer details

Review date: 11th September 2022
Price: A small pie is £3.50 but they are far from small!
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Lidl Sol Y Mar Chicken with Pastry filling

By |2022-07-15T12:40:22+01:00July 15th, 2022|Categories: Blog, Chicken pie|Tags: , , , , |

Now then, these aren’t described as a pie as such but then again, they sure look more like a pie than a lot of not-fully encased products that pass through my kitchen, so in they go.

There is a Spanish flavour to these, and I am delighted to see that the ingredients include white wine, chorizo, piri piri and lemon in here. Should be quite the taste sensation.

They come in a pack of four, and only weighing in at 80 grammes each, so best to have at least two I reckon. I pop them in the oven, and wait. Fifteen minutes in, the pastry is colouring nicely, and there’s a bit of paprika dusted boil out emerging, nothing too enticing on the smell front, but the ornately crimped top crust is holding it’s shape nicely

The pastry needs watching though here. After 25 mins in the oven, the top is starting to turn brown but when I pop it out the tray, the underneath isn’t very well cooked (and the recommended cooking time is 15 to 20 minutes) It feels like the heat isn’t going to penetrate the foil tray without burning the roof, so I feel like now is the time to dive in.

I serve these up with chips and veg, what with them only being mince pie sized, and the look, feel and even taste of the pastry is lovely and buttery on top, with a beautiful hand folded crimp. Sadly, it all goes downhill the further we go, with at least 50% of the pastry, the bottom half basically, being raw.

I could take the blame for this, or blame my oven but cooking instructions were followed and even extended and to prolong the cooking any more would have only resulted in a burnt top crust. Anyway, let us have a look inside.

Filling wise, I am impressed to see some sizable chunks of chicken breast in there and there’s a few little flecks of red and orange chorizo and carrot (?) to compliment it. It is otherwise a touch on the dry side, in spite of it’s soggy bottom.

I purchased them as part of Lidl’s Spanish week, I thought that they looked like intriguing little things and indeed they were. But in short, I would not recommend, unless you can torch the pastry through the foil tray, without causing internal dryness to the filling. You really shouldn’t have to though.

I suppose if you do find yourself in Lidl and needing a pie, I can instead heartily recommend their veggie range, Mrs T really likes them. By contrast, she left half of this one, thus resulting it in a firm and decisive “nil points” from our household.


Price: £1.99 for a pack of four from Lidl

Oh you know where to find Lidl, I don’t need to give you any more details

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Dickinson & Morris Fruit topped Pork Pie

By |2022-07-01T14:27:44+01:00July 1st, 2022|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, Midlands, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , , , |

When you visit Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray, they always have the stella triumvirate of geographically protected classic pork pies (D&M, Mrs King’s and Walkers) on display. However, they also have a range of other speciality pies.

I once picked up a creamy chicken and white pie for just a quid which was fantastic, and of course, they also have all kinds of pork plus something else pies.

Today’s therefore is a pork and pickle (?) pie. What type of pickle? I have no idea. Let’s call it Branston. I don’t know if this is accurate, even upon tasting it, as this particular type of pickly accompaniment isn’t really one of my go to preservatives. Nevertheless, let’s see what this portable Ploughman’s Lunch (dinner!) brings to the table.

I take the pie out of the fridge and let it settle before homing in on it. It’s not Branston pickle at all, it is more of a fruit based topping. The sweet, chutney style topping is tangy, with apples, berries and possibly a few sultanas and a bit of spicy kick on the follow through. The absence of a pastry top crust, however, presumably renders it ineligible from its own Melton Mowbray based pie award.

Inside, there is the familiar, coarse, greyish pink sausage meat, encased in a thin layer of jelly and an even sided hot water crust. The combination in the mouth of mildly peppered pork and fruit layered topping is a winner for me. And whether this type of pie is your go to flavour and style or not, you can’t help but admire the craftsmanship.




Review date: 1st July 2022
Price: Ah, I kept the receipt, in the vain and misguided belief that I do this as a business (or side hustle as the kids call it) Well, if your business is writing about pies, then surely buying and eating pies is a tax deductible expense? Sorry, the price! It was £4.50 for a topped pork pie.
Address: 10 Nottingham St, Melton Mowbray LE13 1NW

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