Murray’s Butchers Steak Pie

By |2021-10-02T18:04:16+01:00October 2nd, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Steak Pie|Tags: , , , , , |

My mate, Paul aka Northern Casual found himself in Glasgow again recently. I received the following message:

“I’m going to a butchers/deli nearby, on their website it says they sell homemade steak pies so if they’ve got some in, do you want some to try?”

Is there ever likely to be a negative answer to this question from your correspondent here?

Murray’s Butchers and Deli is in central Glasgow, The Gorbals in fact and produce a range of pies and meats to suit all tastes and appetites.
Now, there’s lots of places out there that claim their produce to be home made. The pedant in me, could point out that even this was made in a SHOP.

However, what happens when a steak pie is ordered, is that they go out the back and MAKE IT!!

What I received back from Glasgow the next day was a slightly flattened oblong tray with a large over hanging short crust pastry. Oh, yes and it was completely uncooked.

What to do here? I decide to go with my time and tested “20 minutes at 180 degrees in the fan oven” with a view to extending it to 40 minutes if I don’t think it is ready.

Twenty minutes later and what I thought was shortcrust is actually puff pastry. It is golden coloured and rising nicely. The pastry is wafting through my kitchen and I decide on another ten minutes (as I can’t see the meat).

On the 30 minute mark, all seems good so I pull it out and start to examine. There is a foil tray underneath, and a sheet of tin foil, so what’s going on here then?

What is going on here is the oddest pie set up I have ever come across! It is essentially a “do it yourself” pie.

I carefully extract the pie from the foil tray and only the puff pastry crust drops out.
I then peel back the layer of tin foil and there lies a portion of prime steak and gravy.

And that is it! Put that one back together!

 

It feels like some kind of elaborate April Fool’s joke. For all the good it is, I may as well stick it on a barm Wigan-style!

I decide to put the crust on the plate face down with the meat on top so the pie is upside down and get a knife and fork. I struggle with the taste of metal on metal, you see, and can’t cope with a fork touching the foil tray.

Whereas there are only two pieces of meat, they are indeed prime cuts of steak. Soft and juicy and easily broken up into four of five chunks and surrounded with a few blobs of rich gravy.

Now, you know what is coming. The pie purists, of which I consider myself one, would not deem this to even be a pie, due to it’s lack of full encasement in pastry and there is no getting away from this.

I still find it quite a novel and enjoyable experience however. So, in the interests of balance, I reached out to my good chum, sweary stand up comedian and Glaswegian, Barca Jim, to ask if this is a common tradition….

He has previously told me that they do make pies in Glasgow where the steak and gravy are just loaded into a big foil tray and then pastry is crimped over the top, it is indeed a traditional steak pie, or as I would call it, a stew with a lid. He did at least give me the liberty of sending me a decent one.

By the way, here’s one Jim sent me earlier:

Now, THAT does look good, fully encased or not…..

The finer details

Date: 8th September 2021

Price: A small steak pie costs £1.95, they also do scotch pies, bridies (pasties) and larger pies but I cannot vouch for the structure of them.

Address: 181 Crown St, Glasgow G5 9XT
Website: https://www.murraysbutcher.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/murraysbutcherglasgow
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/murraysbutcher/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/murrays_butcher/

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Judging at the 2021 British Pie Awards

By |2021-09-17T15:25:53+01:00September 17th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide|Tags: , , , , , , |

It was once again a pleasure to attend the British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray this week. The previous awards were held in March 2020, just a matter of days before the country plunged into the first of several lockdowns and the world changed for bakers, and indeed most people, everywhere.

This year’s event was moved from March to September in order to give it a greater chance of going ahead but I can confirm that it was a roaring success, with around 800 pies entered and judged.

It is a fair old drive for me to get to Melton but I arrived at 10am and met up with my Pie at Night cohort, Chris and went for a wander around the town, before heading to St Mary’s Church to sign in.

Yet again, I found myself in possession of a red “class leader” apron, something I have always felt a little bit nervous about. I may have dedicated much of my life to researching, seeking out, and writing about pies from across the country but I am no baker and the imposter syndrome always hits me a little. Like, what do I know about pies anyway?

But pie judging isn’t rocket science, although it is a little bit more advanced than my initial Life of Pies approach of “is it a big pie, is it hot and does it taste good?”.

The key categories bookmark several smaller ones at each end. Up front, there is appearance: if it doesn’t look good, why would anyone even want to eat or buy it?

And of course, at the other end: texture and taste, because of course, the taste test, is the ultimate barometer. Not to say the crust, the pastry, the filling, both capacity and blend/ratio of ingredients physically and visually, all contribute to a good pie as well.

I always like to suggest a range of scores to my partners when judging rather than an absolute figure, to ensure we start with a ballpark and then discuss / disagree exactly what mark it deserves. Another method is to deduct a mark or mark(s) for each fault I can find with it and if there are none, then it stays as is.

In one sense, it is a fun, light hearted event, set in a church covered in bunting, and a marvellous celebration of everything British.

However, do not think for one minute that any judge takes their responsibility lightly, without concern of the impact judging can have, both negatively and positively.

A theme with everything I do, firstly with the Life of Pies, and now the Good Pie Guide, is a general appreciation of ANYONE who puts themselves out there by being a small, independent butcher or baker. These local businesses need all the support they can get against the global dominance of supermarkets and other fast foods outlets.

Not mentioning names but yes, I am looking at you, Greggs!!

No, I’m not dissing Greggs, it has a place in today’s society but they don’t even do pies any more, so they are irrelevant for this dialogue.

The feedback is such that those bakers who perform well at the British Pie Awards get an immediate flurry of media interest, followed by a positive uptick and growth in business. So when I say judging is a serious business, well, very often, people’s livelihoods depend on it.

This year, I was placed in Class 3: The Cold Eating Savoury Pie. Now, a few people have commented that this sounds daft. What else are you going to do with a pie, other than eat it?

However, it essentially means, you eat the pie when it is cold. All the pies are all out on the judging table ready for us, whereas other categories are warmed over a period and brought out to judge when ready. I also gather the 600 gram max weight rule is waived in this category as there are some proper hefty pies on show here.

There were three main types of pie in this category. Firstly, there were game pies, consisting of two or three ridiculously rich tasting, thick and chewy meats. I had pheasant, grouse and venison in one pie. Secondly, there were variants of chicken and ham, Huntsman style pies. And the rest generally consisted of pork with something else. For example, pork and black pudding, pork and chorizo, pork with chilli (or chilli jam), pork and stilton mmmmm.

There were about 50 entries and two judging teams. We had quite a few silvers and a handful of golds. Upon moderating at the end, the other team had the best 2 or 3 pies (gold award) and I think that was fair. I think we possibly had the best tasting pie (a pork and stilton) but the stilton had melted and boiled out of the top, causing the crust to look a bit of a mess in parts.

Not that we were too harsh, but I have learnt over the years about the importance of appearance, as mentioned above. I actually used to like a really messy, sloppy looking pie as it’s lack of uniformity evidences that it is home made, and reminds me of the pies I used to eat growing up in Wigan.

However, the more I have become involved with judging, the more I have learnt terms that I had previously been unfamiliar with, such as boil out, seepage and the now ubiquitous soggy bottom.

Incidentally, to contrast the appearance perspective, by far the best looking pie on our table was a circular, wreath style pie, which looked stunning, but both pastry and filling were almost raw. There was also a pie twice the size of the rest, which I made my one dictatorial decision of the day about “we’re all judging that one” but the flavour wasn’t quite as exciting or powerful as it’s dimensions.

I should also add that there is a very diverse mix of people amongst the judges and on this occasion, I was working with a director from Borough market, an agriculture lecturer from a nearby college and a rural support network leader. All from different parts of the country where they are likely to eat different kinds of pies. There is also a team of dedicated event leaders who make it all happen and run the whole event down to a tee to make sure everyone knows their role.

In terms of timings, the event starts properly just after 11am and I had barely stopped to look at my watch until nearly half two (not that you need a lunch break at such an event!) At that point, a moderation takes place and the best three pies are submitted for selection to become class winner and Supreme Pie winner (the best pie out of all 23 classes)

The actual pie makers are on strict instruction to stay out of the way on judging day itself, but if they are fortunate, they get called back on the Friday to attend an award ceremony, where the winners are revealed.

Following this, it was time for us to visit a couple of farm shops for research purposes (always on duty). Pies were collected from nearby Brocklebys and Nice Pie and then me and Chris retired to the pub for a debrief and a Neck Oil or two in the glorious sunshine. I’m not saying the village we visited was posh, but there was a gate to get into it. Probably to stop farm animals escaping but let’s not spoil the narrative.

By 5pm, it was time to hit the road north, and after getting stuck for an hour and half on the A50 near Uttoxeter, it was nearly 9pm when I walked through the door at home, a full 14 hours since I had left that morning. So it is not all glamour, but regardless of the six hour’s driving, it remains one of my favourite days of the year and long may it thrive and continue.

For full details and results of the British Pie Awards, check out the website here

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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!

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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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/

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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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