Westwell’s Meat and Potato Pie (RIP)

By |2022-01-09T12:15:28+00:00January 9th, 2022|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , |

The sad part about refreshing my database, as I continue to collate my new book, is finding out that so many fine, traditional bakers have fallen by the wayside. Sure, new entrants have come along. Lockdown, in particular, for all it’s drawbacks, has given lots of people the chance to seize an opportunity that they might never have taken, to don an apron and try their hand at a career change.

With me working from the beginning, I am finding that the landscape has changed considerably in ten years and East Manchester in particular has suffered from the closure of two giants of their time. We join this tale just after I had visited The Crusty Cob and was heading towards Westwell’s Bakery. One time supplier of tater hash to FC United when they were still at Gigg Lane:

Westwell’s Meat and Potato Pie

Wow! I’m beaming away like a small child in Openshaw Matalan car park, being observed closely by a fag toting security guard, who is probably wondering what the hell I’ve got to be so pleased about on a drab Saturday morning.

But there’s more! I make for the Openshaw/Droylsden border down a side street which is tail to bumper with erratically parked white vans, full of blokes stuffing their faces. Hello hello, what have we here?

Westwells, home of previously mentioned Tater Hash, is a corner plot and very rustic inside. Sandwiches, pies and two pans of peas and gravy and a fridge full of cans. No price list and when she orally presents the bill for my purchase, I am inclined to clean my ears out…

Purveyor: Westwells

Premises: Droylsden, Manchester

Purchase: A meat and potato pie for EIGHTY FIVE PENCE

Place: 8 I’m kept waiting a while as the hi viz gentleman in front orders his sides of peas and gravy but the old girl behind the counter quickly shouts her co-worker for assistance in a lovely Mancunian accent, so deep it makes Barry White sound distinctly soprano

Pastry: 8 A bit crumbly, but again distinctly home made, with a teasing little peephole in the middle

Presentation: 8 The foil tray is so furnace-like, it appears to be burning a hole in my hand, but the smell of gravy emanating from inside, means this pie is destined for a quick larruping

Package: 8 Intensely full inside, easy on the eye with potatoes that are so sodden with gravy, they’re dark brown in colour

Palate: 7 The spectre of the tater hash rears its ugly head again (on a previous trip to FC United world renowned food critic, Orrible Ives of the Norley Hall estate in Wigan, decreed the tater hash “dry and tasteless” – nor did he pay for it the ungrateful bounder!) It was a touch dry in parts, however the divine softness of the filling compensates for a slight lack of flavour

Price: 9. I repeat: EIGHTY FIVE NEW PENCE

Portion: 7.5 Slightly raised in the middle in order to accommodate more content

OVERALL: 55.5/70 A splendid price and a great looking pie but the (arguable) lack of seasoning only enforces the suggestion that you might want to team up this little cracker with some peas and gravy.

The finer details:

The original review took place on Saturday 28th January 2012. I have since discovered that, just like The Crusty Cob, Westwell’s has also pulled it’s last pie out of the oven a couple of years ago and the premises have now been converted to flats. Sad times but fond memories!

See previous review: The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie (RIP) – The Good Pie Guide

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Clapham’s Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-11-15T16:53:43+00:00November 15th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , , , |

I recently found myself running a relative to Leigh Infirmary for a hospital appointment, one that would require a bit of wait time. Well, what is there to do in Leigh with said wait time?

I suppose a man’s got to eat for a start…..

I have tried out quite a few pie shops in Leigh and the surrounding areas but my knowledge is by no means comprehensive. I’m getting compelled to Dawsons Pies of Atherton cos they are amazing and there’s also Sargents which is close by. I think I have had Sargents in the past in a pub in Standish (a pub that gives away pies on a Saturday night is always a winner in my eyes) and I am more than familiar with Dawson’s Pies, the only question is whether since re-opening, they are of the same high standard.

There’s also Taylor’s marvellous peppery pies, as previously reviewed on here by yours truly, so you could say that the locals of Leigh are spoilt for choice on the pie front.

Clapham’s are an unknown quantity. My new book will feature not 314 pies but 1,000. Whereas I’d never eat that many personally, getting up to half should be the bare minimum, so that is 186 new pies to try over the next 12 months or so in order to make this project real. So, on we go.

Clapham’s is a very traditional bakery, situated just on the periphery of Leigh town centre. It appears that there may have been some kind of incident a day or two before my visit, as the windows appear to have been boarded up, but the shop is open, so I venture in undeterred.

There’s two blokes in front of me, clad in work gear. I’m always curious to earwig on their order, in case of any local culinary tip offs, and on this occasion it appears that “minced beef pie on a barm please” is the preferred option.

A meat and potato pie is priced at ONE ENGLISH POUND, I am also taken aback by the meat pies, which look small and deep and very reminiscent of Dawson’s down the road in Atherton / Tyldesley.

Other pies available include steak pies, minced beef and pasties (meat and potato and also cheese and onion). The shop is a bit sparse but there is steady flow of pies and sandwiches coming from the kitchen.

I opt for the meat and potato and a meat pie. My little duo arrive in a paper bag, which is hot to the touch, and the smell coming off them, once I am back in my car is breathtaking. A beautiful gluten-ny, gluttony, buttery, lardy pastry, injecting right up into my nostrils.

I decamp to the car park of BJ’s Bingo across the road to tuck in, and it really doesn’t take long at all to devour this pair.

The meat and potato is not a huge pie, but what do you want for a quid? The pastry is wonderfully soft with a firm crust lip. The filling is predominantly mashed potato, with a few clumps of mince thrown in. The flavour is sweet and gentle, with none of the fiery pepper seasoning, I have come to expect from round these parts, the main heat comes from the fresh potato filling, which is burning hot yet delicious.

And with that it is one down, one to go….

The finer details
Date: 7th August 2021
Price: £1.00 for a meat and potato pie
Address: 65 Chapel St, Leigh WN7 2PB
Website: https://www.claphamsbakery.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claphamsbakery/
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Brockleby’s Northerner Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-11-07T17:24:20+00:00November 7th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Meat and Potato Pie|Tags: , , , , , |

After our recent pie judging trip to Melton Mowbray, we decided to see what else the town has to offer in pie form, in addition to the “famous” Dickinson & Morris pork pie.

There are several other independent pie makers in the town, and two of them in particular, are very highly regarded in their own right.
Myself, and my cohort Chris, decided to pay a visit to the noted pie makers, Brockleby’s on our way back from Melton to see what they have to offer.

As if to underline, the importance of pastry around these parts, Brockleby’s actually offer pie making tutorials at their premises, and they also sell a wide range of pies, which you can buy in person or online for shipping across the country.

I think you’d have to take a look at their website to get the full details of flavours and combinations that they produce, but if I was to sum up their range in one word, it would be diverse.

I’ve just had another look since my visit eight weeks ago, and it has changed dramatically again, most noticeably the addition of a Christmas themed reindeer pie (venison) and a range of Greek and Moroccan inspired flavours.

They are also one of the few bakers to really take on the fish pie theme to it’s proper conclusion and actually put fish into a fully encased pie crust, with salmon pie and a “Penguin pie”. Made with haddock and cheese, I should add, not penguin.

I picked up a range of pies on my visit and whacked them in the freezer when I got home. Of the two larger, plate pies I bought, I gave the lady of the house the choice between The Northerner (meat and potato) and Cocky Leeky (chicken and leek) for tea tonight, and she chose the former.

It feels only right that a man of my credentials, brought up in the meat and potato pie capital of the world should roadtest their Northerner minced beef and potato pie at the earliest opportunity, in any case, so here goes.

The Northerner Pie by Brockleby’s

The pie comes in an attractive, decorative box, giving details as to the origin of the ingredients and suggested cooking instructions.

The pie is deep, circular and very heavy in the hands, with a beautiful, golden egg glaze brushing the pastry lid.

It takes a full fifty minutes to cook from frozen but it’s not long before the sweet, lardy pastry flavour starts to permeate out of the oven and around the kitchen.

Upon removal, the pie is scorching hot and it is filled to the brim. From my perspective, it makes the “double flip” required to get it out of the tray and on to a plate, quite challenging. So forgive my cack handedness in the photo, and take my word for it, that this pie is jam packed with filling.

The contents are high quality, tender meaty chunks of mince, soaked in stock, onion and a bit of garlic. Kind of feels like a cottage pie type filling and Emma commented that there didn’t seem to be a lot of potato in there. Of course, her point of comparison is with the Wigan meat and potato pie, which is generally all potato and a bit of meat. The traditional North west meat and potato were actually forced to rebrand a few years back, because they were mainly potato and a bit of mince or mutton.

The ratio in this pie is strictly the other way. This pie is absolutely rammed with meat and dark gravy that has soaked into the filling and turned the potato chunks brown. I should add that my missus is not a big meat eater but I am certainly not going to complain about a high meat content and both the flavour and the texture were a delight.

As this was a proper tea, I added some chips coated with chardonnay vinegar and sea salt and a load of veg, and I was absolutely stuffed at the end of it. In short, half a pie of this size was enough for me, but obviously I could have tackled the full monty.

This was certainly a very decent appetiser for the Brockleby pies to come and I look forward to consuming and reviewing them in due course.

The finer details
Date: 15th September 2021 (purchased), 6th November 2021 (eaten)
Price: The price was £7.00 for a large Northerner pie, which served two
Address: Melton Road, Asfordby Hill, Melton Mowbray LE14 3QU
Website: https://www.brocklebys.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brocklebys
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brocklebys_pies/
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The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie (RIP)

By |2021-10-28T13:59:46+01:00October 28th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Location, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , , , |

Sadly, this is one from the archives, from a place that is no more, yet it was one of the favourite pies I had whilst on my previous mission.

They were another Maurice Twomowers recommendation, similar to Slatterys but of the four pies I had that day, this was by far the best.
Sadly, the Crusty Cob ceased trading a few years back. It now appears to be a kebab shop ☹

In any case, I’m still going to share my review of one of the finest pies ever made. To all the young entrepreneurs out there, making visually gastronomic pleasures, with all manner of daft flavours. Well, why not try and make these hand made, odd shaped, leaking with gravy beauties instead. They might not garner the same level of Instagram likes, but bloody hell they tasted amazing and they will fly off the shelves if you can make them half as good.


The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie

On to Ancoats and the irony of Man Utd lads sending me to one of their hidden treasures situated in the shadow of the Etihad isn’t lost. Though technically this is where Manchester United started off, back when they were just a bunch of workshy railwaymen, who’d rather kick a ball about than stoke a steam engine, with no grand designs on Premier League domination.

I drive through part of the “Shameless” estate, finding it relatively genteel, after having gone through much gentrification in recent times and arrive in Beswick Street. The Crusty Cob sits in a secluded row of shops, perched on a hill, which runs down to the stadium.

It’s well kept and I’m queuing up trying to ascertain the menu. Manchester is firmly meat and potato country. There’s meat pies and potato pies and meat and potato pies, all of them look homemade and delicious as I tune in to other people’s orders. The fella in front orders 12 [twelve] meat and potato pies and six cream horns.

Purveyor: The Crusty Cob
Premises: Manchester
Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.22
Place: 6.5 Queuing system a bit of a mess
Pastry: 9 Home made, impeccably soft, short crust pastry, made to perfection. The crust is the first thing you see and I can’t take my eyes off these beauties, from the second I walk into the shop. A quite simply stunning uneven top crust.
Presentation: 9 A real looker, highly distinct. More importantly, it’s piping hot with more steam coming off it than an irate Popeye.
Package: 9.5 Fantastic dark gravy spilling out and wrapping up a crowded filling of meat and potato chunks
Palate: 9 Dark, mysterious and opulent gravy coating steak and potato which has a remarkable freshness about it
Price: 8 I endorse the fact it’s £1.22. It implies they are resisting the lazy option of whacking the price with all their might in multiples of 5 or 10. Putting the customer’s pocket before their own ballache of handling masses of coppers
Portion: 7.5 Average size but great volume

OVERALL: 58.5/70 Equally as suitable for an Arab sheikh or a humble railway worker. I’m beaming away like a small child in Openshaw Matalan car park, whilst I’m being observed closely by a security guard on a fag break, who is probably wondering what the hell I’ve got to be so pleased about on a drab Saturday morning.

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 28th January 2012. The owners of the Crusty Cob retired in 2018, after 47 years service. As an aside, I got friendly with the owner and his son, a year or two after I published the book. I was working in the Northern Quarter at the time, and faced with a shed full of books to sell, I finally answered my phone to a tabloid press agency, who wanted me to do a feature. There was only one place to go for a (reluctant) photoshoot.

My face ended up in the Daily Star, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail (I know) and, far from the spectacle that getting your name in the paper or on telly used to entail, I sold a mere 30 copies of the book off the back of it. It hardly seemed worth it, but the hospitality from Dave and his son was second to none. They were genuinely proud that their pies were one of the best out of the 300+ I sampled, and even sold the book in the shop for several years. Which of course, gave me any excuse to return again and again and sample their lovely pies.

See previous review https://goodpieguide.co.uk/slatterys-meat-and-potato-pie/
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Slattery’s Meat and Potato Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Slattery’s Meat and Potato Pie

5.

Purveyor:  Slatterys

Premises: Whitefield

Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.50

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

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

Presentation: 7 Authentic aroma and of a very good temperature

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

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

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

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

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

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

The finer details:

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

Current pricing (June 2021)

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/slattery_cakes

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

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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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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
Or visit their website
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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

 

Wrights Meat and Potato Pie

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

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

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

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

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

3.

Purveyor: Wrights

Premises: Crewe

Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.30

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

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

 

The finer details:

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

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

Current pricing (March 2021)

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

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

Twitter: Wrights Food Group (@WrightsFoodGrp) / Twitter

Facebook: Wrights Pies | Facebook

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

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

 

 

Muffin Man Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-01-27T11:20:47+00:00January 27th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, Uncategorised, Wigan|Tags: , , , |

This was the second pie I reviewed in Life of Pies, and being within a mile or so from my house, it is a pie that I have sampled many times before and since. At the time, I was operating incognito, with not even my good lady wife aware of my plan to eat hundreds of pies, therefore the need for discretion was paramount.

Let me put this out there: Muffin Man make great pies. However, being based in Wigan means that they are situated in one of the most cut throat pie markets that there is. Maybe I was a little bit harsh at the time, but they are certainly a good match for a Galloways or a Bowens on their day.

The Muffin Man Meat and Potato Pie

It’s highly probable that blood has been spilled over the debate as to who makes the best pies in Wigan. Or pie gravy at least. This is why the question needs answering. Not a week goes by without some 500 reply thread on Facebook over whose pies are best in some of the more feverish Wigan Facebook groups. There is real passion and dare I say anger over this at times, like when Italians get talking about football.

There are people who swear by the Muffin Man. Plus it’s in my village so giving it a shit review will see me ostracised by my local community and earn me the nickname “that pie wanker”.

Going to keep it simple and local for now. First, lay the trap:

“Right darling, going getting my hair cut, then I’m getting some petrol. Fancy a pie for dinner?”

It needs to be a local one given we’re going out for the afternoon and I’m still operating incognito but there are some big hitters within the confines of WN6. I don’t want to crown a king in the first few pages but I envisage at least one or two Champions League places for Wigan pie shops when judgement day arrives.

The beauty of this land of ours is that you can be anywhere in the country by lunch time if you get up early enough but, just for today, my local pie shop will have to do.

When I was a kid growing up in the Springfield area of Wigan, there were at least four pie shops within a few hundred yards of my house. I’m left to lament D&J Wilcock, Lyons and the Gidlow Bakery, however the Muffin Man of my childhood, remains intact on Park Road.

It’s a traditional bakers with several branches in Wigan. As the name implies they do lovely, fluffy muffins in packs of six. These are known in Wigan as barmcakes. Known elsewhere as cobs / rolls / baps / teacakes / breadcakes and the source of pithy regional internet arguments everywhere.

There’s also pasties, chunky steak pies and breakfast items, and chicken and mushroom pies, the latter of which I often decline, on the basis that I refuse point blank to eat anything that grows between your toes. This is a phobia I will have to conquer in the coming months.

For today, I manage to procure the last three meat and potato pies on the shelf.

“Put some more pies in, these have run out”

It’s barely eleven in the morning! Only in Wigan!

2.

Purveyor: The Muffin Man
Premises: Wigan
Purchase: Large meat and potato pie £1.35

Place: 8 Brisk and brusque, the Wigan pie woman in action is truly an art form to admire
Pastry: 9 Firm enough that the crust doesn’t crumble in any way, yet softer than the dulcet tones of the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny. Heavenly.
Presentation: 6 Not very warm but this was acknowledged
Package: 8 Densely packed potato bound with mince in a mash. Heavier on the potato than meat but plenty in there
Palate: 8 The mince is pinkish but deliciously tender and it is a proper Lancastrian pie with sloppy potato filling oozing all over
Price: 8 Two options to serve different appetites works for me
Portion: 8 I mean who on earth orders a small pie when there’s a large one on the menu?

OVERALL: 55/70. I’m parked up at the side of the road, whilst talking into my phone like an Apprentice candidate. A paperboy walks past looking at me oddly, as I narrate this review Partridge-style. As I said: Pies are serious business. An early contender.

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 21st January 2012. (where did those nine years go!) I have eaten enough of these subsequently to verify the above account, and yes, they are usually served piping hot. They also do a lovely line in pork pies with accompaniments, such as pork with apple, black pudding or chorizo.

Current pricing (January 2021)
Potato and meat pie £1.85

Website: Muffin Man
Twitter: Muffin Man (@Muffinmanbakery) / Twitter
Facebook: Muffin man | Facebook
Instagram: @muffinman_wigan
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

Previous review: Sayers meat and potato pie

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

 

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