Steve’s Chicken Curry Pie

By |2021-02-05T13:31:39+00:00February 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Now then. Time for a little something different. A mate of mine, Johnny Stafford, who acquired my previous book, the Life of Pies, some years back, had a neighbour who makes his own pies.

What started as a hobby turned into a passion with Steve taking them into work for his colleagues to try. I have got to say I’ve tried five of them now and they are all fantastic. The man has a talent!!

Here is a review I did for Steve’s steak and veg pie, which was the first one I tried: Steve’s Steak and Veg Pie

I have actually eaten three more different ones since then, with the tasting notes saved somewhere but while this particular one is fresh in my mind, let’s dive in…..

The first thing that takes you back is the size and weight of it. In truth, it is possibly enough for two people. But the first rule of pie club is that WE DO NOT SHARE PIES!!

This also rules it out of entry to the British Pie awards, not only because it is not commercially available but as Steve has confirmed it is over the regulation 600 grammes in weight.

Being a professional, well, a dedicated amateur, he has been in touch throughout, checking on the status of the pie. What with it being in his freezer for a few months due to lockdown, then also in mine for several months, Steve was concerned the pie might no longer be at it’s best. I can confirm this was not the case, it was absolutely fantastic, in many ways, just like all of his efforts.

The pie is of a familiar shape, flat sided with a sturdy top crust. You may notice that the top crust has fallen away a wee bit at the sides, probably due to minor freezer degradation. However, after 20 mins in the oven, the texture is perfect, with that all important crunch I’ve so missed*, clearly evident. Closely followed by a softer, doughy shortcrust interior which is gently infused with the moisture from the filling.


*Yeah I did the whole “it’s January, best get a few pounds off after consuming three times my bodyweight in food, alcohol and snacks over the festive period”. Sorry.

As for the filling, well it is packed to the rafters with chicken, peas, onions, peppers and herbs, all mixed in with a lightly moist gravy. That alone, is arguably enough, but Steve kindly provided me with an individual pot of home made curry sauce to pour on, which he makes using the juices from the meat.

The curry sauce is out of this world, it knocks most chip shop curry sauces into a hat, and it has a fair kick to it as well. I pour it on half to try and get a with/without taste but basically end up dipping my fork in it throughout.


The whole pie is cleared up in a matter of minute but it is intensely tasty and satisfying. I have mentioned previously that these pies would go down a storm if they were made commercially, Steve like most of us, has a day job to contend with.

So in the meantime, all you can do, is join our Facebook group or get in touch with me, and beg him to make you one if you are based in the North West. They are WELL WORTH IT, trust me.

And here is how you can get social with the Good Pie Guide:
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Instagram

Like our Facebook Page
Join our Facebook Group
Get in touch or sign up to our newsletter

Anyone for Beetroot?

By |2021-02-02T13:34:50+00:00February 2nd, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Wigan|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Maybe not, but what about beetroot IN A pie? Well, I’ve give it a go. Mate of mine, Paul (@NorthernCasual) has been testing out the pie range at the new butchers in Standish (Wigan) J McRobbs.

They have a great range of pies, including the aforementioned “Lobbies pie”. Lobbies is a form of Hot pot without the crust on top, except in this case, it does have a crust. In fact it is fully encased, and inside there is a layer of beetroot atop of potato slices and mince meat in a juicy stock?

Why beetroot? Well, I remember having beetroot regularly as a kid alongside my hotpot, and red cabbage is another popular alternative. I also was keen on the pickled onions option as well, but my favourite part of hotpot was of course, the crust.

Paul has kindly sent me a picture of the Lobbies pie and a lamb and mint pie (looks like a belter too!). I will be nipping along shortly to test these out for myself.

J McRobb are based in Standish, near Wigan; Chorley and inside Derby House food hall. For your details, check their website: http://Www.Mcrobbbutchers.co.uk/

Sayers Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-01-12T11:51:46+00:00January 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

Hampson’s Meat and Potato Pie

NB Now trading as Sayers

Today we go right back to the start. To be honest, we had been reviewing pies informally for years in the fanzines I was involved with but Monday 16th January 2012 was the first day that I consciously went out to buy a pie and review it.

It took place in one of the poshest areas of Knutsford, close to where I was working at the time and I am lucky I didn’t get arrested. I visited a Hampson’s Bakers in the town, subsequently re-branded as Sayers. They also include the Pound bakery in their stable, more on them later.

Enjoy, as your then thirty-something pie reviewer made his first foray into (semi) professional pie eating, totally unaware of the monster he was about to unleash….

Hampson’s (Sayer’s) Meat and Potato Pie

I’m sat in my car in a leafy lane near Knutsford town centre. I have carefully assembled a digital camera and have got a white chopping board laid out on the passenger seat, with the box underneath to prop it up level to the seat’s curvature. There’s a load of white van men working on a big house across the road and a postman has just walked past, whistling. Because all postmen whistle.

I lay the pie out on the chopping board and I produce a large shiny carving knife out of my Asda bag, lift the pie out of it’s foil tray and proceed to sever it in half with one almighty, glee-filled blow. Just as a pair of ageing pedestrians walk past with their dog.

“Police are trying to trace a man seen acting suspiciously in a silver car in the area around the time of the crime”

Those are the words ringing through my head right now. I’m not right in the head am I, let’s face it? This is ODD behaviour; or at the very least OCD behaviour. It makes perfect sense to me though: this is the first stage in a quest I have believed in for quite some time now.
It is the duty of a Wigan man to sample as many pies as is humanly possible from around the world.

I want to find the best there is. It may be in my home town of Wigan, or further afield. I need a plan, a map, an understanding wife and some healthy working organs. Can I travel the UK, albeit ever so slightly skewed towards the North to find and review the best pies and try and find the ultimate pie? It’s time to find out…..

My first review is in Knutsford near work. It’s posh. The local MP is George Osborne. This might well be where he comes when he wants to rough it and stick a meat pie down his grid. I doubt it though.

It’s nearly 1pm when I wander in to break up the chit chat as two ladies turn and stand to attention.
“I’ll have a meat and potato pie please”

You’ll be hearing me say that an awful lot. It’s my staple diet for 700 days, although I’m prepared to mix it up a bit in the interests of research. I mean they do a CHIP SHOP CURRY PASTY in here for God’s sake, who wouldn’t want one of those?

There are a range of pasties from chicken tikka and cheese and onion but it’s the pie I’m after, which comes in a Sayers wrapper. Confused? Hampsons are part of the Sayers group and they also own the Pound Bakery (more on them later). They have sensibly opted to retain their prestige brand name for the residents of the Tatton constituency mind you.

 

1.
Purveyor: Hampsons Bakers
Premises: Bolton
Purchase: Meat and Potato pie £1.05

Place: 7 I get a smile which is a start! Attentive and seemed genuinely pleased to see me. They offered me a fork which blotted their copy book a bit mind you.
Pastry: 7 The pie possesses perfect portability and holds together throughout. The crust edge is a tad thick, which often sets the heartburn alarm bells ringing, but the whole pie is eaten by hand and there is zero, I repeat zero spillage
Presentation: 7 It’s scorching hot like a hand grenade, yet once the foil tray has been dispensed with, it’s almost the perfect room temperature to chomp into
Package: 8 A deep mix of meat and potato chunks, full to the brim with hardly any airspace
Palate: 7 This lot churn out the pies by the van load so it’s a quality, solid performer if a little generic
Price: 8 Slightly above average sized pie for a slight below average price
Portion: 7 A standard size
OVERALL: If I had the best pie in the whole wide world first, it would be a very short book. The Hampsons pie is a good, solid performer but not spectacular. It sets a benchmark that some will exceed but many will fall short of and gets a respectable 51 out of 70 marks.
Now, I need to get a plan together…..

The finer details:
The original review took place on Monday 16th January 2012. Hampsons (now all Sayers branded) continue to have a range of shops across the North West stocking a wide variety of pies, pasties and probably some more healthy stuff, we’re not going to plug here.

Little known fact: Some time after publishing the Life of Pies, I was approached by a marketing consultant to do some work with them and become the face of Sayers / The Pound Bakery. I politely declined as it may compromise my impartiality. Looks like they went with Ken Barlow instead.

Current pricing (Jan 2021):
You can expect to pay around £2 for a fresh, hot meat and potato or steak pie from Sayers these days, though prices may vary slightly.

Website: Sayers the bakers
Twitter: @sayersthebakers
Facebook: Sayers the Bakers
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

Turners Steak and Ale Pie (142)

By |2020-12-20T13:39:11+00:00December 20th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Pies, Uncategorised|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Time for another pie from the archives and today, I am going to move out of the North West all the way down to sunny Sussex. I don’t know how I first came across Turners’ Pies, but I am very glad I did. And they have been very hard to avoid since, given their meteoric rise up the pie charts.

They are a multiple British Pie Award supreme pie winner (the biggest accolade any pie maker can get!) So it is only fair that I accelerate and acknowledge their presence in the Good Pie Guide.

Turners Steak and Ale Pie

Bognor Regis, a place so sleepy it’s twinned with the Land of Nod. It does possess Turners however, a specialist family run pie shop with a very smart exterior, if a little bit marooney in colour.

As soon as I get out of the car, that unmistakeable waft of pastry comes heading my way, I’m like a geriatric Bisto-kid. The lad serving is a chirpy Cockney geezer, with a mop of hair and therefore bearing more than a passing resemblance to Charlatans front man Tim Burgess. All about the pies in here, chicken and steak of various dimensions, served on their own or you can chuck in peas, mash and gravy for a couple of extra quid.

142.

Purveyor: Turners
Premises: Bognor Regis
Purchase: Steak and ale pie £2.30

Place: 8 The hot pies and mash are pulled down from a serving hatch which is a nice touch
Pastry: 8 A highly decorative crust, crisp in the mouth but uneven and artisan in its form, suggesting it has been crimped by hand. Highly portable as well, not that I’ve seen many Sussex folk walking around eating pies with their hands like they do where I’m from
Presentation: 9 Amazing aroma and piping hot
Package: 9 A dangerously overcrowded population of prime steak lies within
Palate: 8 Mighty and meaty
Price: 7 Over £2 takeaway but this is no average pie
Portion: 8 Deep and oblong shaped

OVERALL: 57/70 A splendidly well filled pie from a passionate vendor dedicated to fine food

The finer details:

The original review took place on Tuesday 16th October 2012. Obviously with Turners being a good 250 miles from my house, I am yet to pay a repeat visit, or indeed, try their Pies by Post service. Though I should add that I have no doubt unknowing eaten their pies in my role of judge at the British Pie Awards. Given their 2020 success with it, I reason that the next pie of theirs to review for the Good Pie Guide will be the Steak and Stilton pie, the 2020 BPA Supreme Champion. Can’t wait!

Current pricing (December 2020)
A steak and ale pie is currently retailing at £3.80 via Turner’s click and collect service. Or you can of course buy in bulk using their Pies by Post service.

Website: https://www.turnerspies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TurnersPies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TurnersPies/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/turnerspies/
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

 

Galloways Meat and Potato Pie (107)

By |2020-12-11T11:48:40+00:00December 11th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Meat and Potato Pie, Pies, Wigan|Tags: , , , , |

So as I move from the old to the new, I thought it might be useful to rehash, er, provide content to the site by putting my entire works of Life of Pies online. It’s not like I haven’t still got hundreds of copies in my shed to sell (nudge, nudge, on sale for a fiver HERE)

I will probably work through the book logically but for now, I thought I’d throw in one of Wigan’s finest as nobody should have to wait two years for this to be represented in any Good Pie Guide…

Galloways Meat and Potato Pie

There were other pie shops in Wigan before Galloways popped up in the 70’s. They were by no means the first, but their pies capture the flavour and spirit of the Wigan meat and potato pie from days gone by.

As it stands, they now have a sum total of 24 shops in and around Wigan. There’s even a rumour going around that they have branched out as far away as *takes deep breath* ST HELENS.

So nowadays, you can barely visit a shopping precinct in Wigan now without seeing the garish turquoise header, black Galloways lettering and their ubiquitous little baker logo assigned to a shop front. Walk out of Wallgate station and you more or less walk into one. It is the first thing you see (and smell!) What a town!

Galloways have expertly filled some of the void left by the shutdown of several fine traditional Wigan bakers and much more importantly than that, they make amazing pies.

They are generally regarded to be the best in Wigan (although we may well challenge that theory throughout this quest). They are a real force to be reckoned with yet despite their success and growth, they’re still a very localised brand.

As I arrive in Standish, every third person seems to be carrying their uniform green bag of goodies. From glammed up yummy mummies wearing wraparound shades, fresh from their weekly spray tan, to doddery pensioners with tartan shopping trollies and as I turn the corner the queue is spilling out into the High Street.

Waiting time is around three minutes, just enough for me to survey the scene: Galloways is always a very open kitchen, with entrance doors almost as wide as the shop itself and a counter working it’s way all around the shop.

In front, is a wide expanse of pie display including several racks of potato and meat pies (called meat and potato in the meal deal above, I know it’s the regulations, bah humbug!) but anyway what that means is you can get pie, peas and gravy for a couple of quid.

There are cheese and onion, chunky steak, minced steak, party meat, pork pies, chicken and mushroom, butter pies, pasties, turnovers, sausage rolls and on it goes. There’s an impressive range of sandwiches and cakes, usually including a festive or topical theme such as Halloween or Christmas. My notes tell me that when I scribbled this review in August 2012, they were doing a fetching line in Bradley Wiggins gingerbread men, complete with novelty sideburns.

I get served and as I walk out past the dry cleaners, where the shop owner is stood outside, getting some fresh air, away from his sweltering machinery. He spots my beaming little face with a pie in my hand.

 

“You’re going to enjoy that pie aren’t you lad?”
Yes, I am my friend. I certainly am.

107.
Purveyor: Galloways
Premises: Wigan
Purchase: Potato and Meat Pie
Place: 7 SHE ASKS ME TO REPEAT MYSELF!!! Shocking! I expect that if I’m down south but in Wigan?? My Wiggin accent is hardly the broadest but if anything that should help. Mildly offended here
Pastry: 9 Beautifully soft but never soggy, with the trademark peepholes in the top, which dried gravy and filling gently oozes out of. Despite this flexible exterior, they can usually be easily eaten by hand without the contents slopping out.
Presentation: 8.5 An orgasmic smell and a volcanically hot foil tray
Package: 9 Rammed full of mashed potato and mince, which attacks me head on as I bite into it
Palate: 9 An explosion in the mouth of peppery meat and potato mush which never disappoints. You just have to try this pie once in your life.
Price: 7.5 There are perhaps cheaper pies in Wigan but you certainly get what you pay for as this is a quality offering
Portion: 8 Deceptively large in that it’s a semi-plate pie, which is wider at the top than the bottom

OVERALL: 58/70 Bar well and truly raised. Galloways simply produce a winning formula which is loved by the dozen by the ravenous locals. Britain’s best? We’ll see!

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 4th August 2012. I have consumed dozens more Galloways pies since then in order to verify the accuracy of the above.

Current prices (December 2020)

Potato and meat pie £2.20
Potato and meat pie with peas and gravy £2.75
PIE BARM!!! £2.70

Website: https://www.gallowaysbakers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gallowayspies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GallowaysPies

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

You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

Welcome to the Good Pie Guide!

By |2020-04-05T21:13:55+01:00April 5th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Pies, Wigan|Tags: , , , |

Welcome indeed to the Good Pie Guide. We love pies and our mission is to celebrate them in print and digital form!

THE WEBSITE

This site contains thousands of listings and hundreds of reviews and we are adding to it all the time. Please feel free to have a browse around our virtual pie world and see what tickles your fancy.

We want to celebrate our great nation of independent, traditional butchers and bakers alongside the more modern artisan, innovative pie makers and we are asking you to get involved.

We are asking you, as pie aficionados, to send us your pies. Whether you make them, eat them or just like the look of them.

THE BOOK

The Good Pie Guide will be the ultimate handbook for the pie lover in your life with over 100 featured reviews and 1,000+ listings, ensuring that wherever you are in the UK, you will never be far from a good pie.

Last time I put pen to paper on this topic, I embarked on a secret incognito mission whereby I travelled the country in search of the country’s best pies. I made the decision myself, based on my own personal preferences. Even though I have impeccable taste, and a lifetime of eating pies behind me, like most Wigan residents, I am understandably a sample size of one. This time, I am going to listen and compile the ultimate pie chart toppers based on the views of others and how you score them.

So if YOU think you know where the best pies are and indeed, you think you make the best pies, get in touch and you might just make it into this much prized inaugural edition of THE GOOD PIE GUIDE 2022*

We will be putting a small extract from the forthcoming book online here in the coming weeks to whet your appetite so keep checking back and subscribe to our email list below.

*Current expected publication date Summer 2021

THE PIE SHOP

Both the book and the site were conceived over 12 months ago now and we are still populating content. It has hit one, fairly obvious snag. As the author of the book, my biggest challenge right now is to finish my pie research for volume one by travelling to various parts of the country, whilst said country is in indefinite lockdown.

Nevertheless, it will be resolved in due course. However, in the meantime, if we can’t go and find the pies, the pies will come to us. To this end, we will be setting up a PIE SHOP where you can buy pies online from GPG approved suppliers to satisfy your pastry cravings. Again, if you a pie maker of some repute, please get it touch and we’d love to feature you….

There is lots more to come as we continue to build our content and community but for the time being, please follow us on social media using the links below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/goodpieguideUK

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/goodpieguide

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Life-of-Pies-562687713756385/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/goodpieguide

And please, please, come and share your favourite pies with us….

This is all metaphorically speaking of course. There is NO CHANCE of us actually sharing a pie with anyone here at GPG, the pies are all ours!

With best Wishes

Martin Tarbuck
Life of Pies and Good Pie Guide Author

Go to Top