Ginger Butchers Traditional Pork Pie

By |2022-01-04T11:45:37+00:00January 4th, 2022|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Midlands, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , , , |

Happy New Year! I found myself in Bakewell with family over the festive season, of course the kids wanted to bring back some Bakewell Tarts. No, not Bakewell puddings and I know that is sacrilege in local circles.

I picked up a couple of pies, to be reviewed later but also on our mini tour de Bakewell (toy shop, sweet shop, full English at a café and the Tart shop) I also spotted Ginger Butchers, or more importantly, their strapline which read: “speciality pork pies sold here”.

I made my excuses and left the wife and children for a minute, only to find a queue of a dozen people inside. Foiled at first attempt but thankfully when I passed by again a few minutes later, the queue had subsided.

As you’d expect, it is a busy establishment with cooked meals and meat galore but it doesn’t take long for me to hone in on the pie selection. There are steak, meat and potato, chicken and mushroom and what appears to be stilton topped pork pies. I have decided I just want a pork pie and spot a picnic pie, individually sized and priced at £1.95.

However, after placing my order I spot the larger sharing pork pies for £3.95 and upgrade to one of those instead. It feels like a house brick in my hands, but hey it’s Christmas and you’ve got to have a big pork pie at Christmas, it is the law.

I take it home and choose to eat it from the fridge after letting it settle for twenty minutes or so, and it takes a big old knife to cut through it’s considerable depth. The crust is an even, golden colour with a solid, well cooked shape and base to it.

Inside there is a decent layer of succulent jelly inside the casing and the meat is chewy but still tender enough to melt in the mouth. The filling style feels a little bit hybrid, between the refined style preferred in the North of England but also a bit untextured and coarse as favoured in the Midlands, the Melton Mowbray style. I suppose that makes sense given the location of Derbyshire. There is moderate seasoning but the overwhelming flavour is that of savoury sausage meat, which goes down great with the crust and jelly.

In retrospect, I am a bit envious upon looking at their website that I didn’t pick up a Huntsman’s Pie instead but the traditional pork pie is still a lovely product and highly filling.

To this end, after polishing off half of it, I decide to eat the other half the following day but I decide to warm it up in the oven for ten minutes or so. I’ve been around this debate many times, the old hot versus cold pork pie and my conclusion is that ideally, the pie should be served whilst cooling from the oven and eaten promptly. Perhaps wait until you get out of the butchers first though.

This method has been used to score highly by many a butcher such as Burchall’s of St Helens, Stanforths of Skipton and Percy’s in Barnsley. I defy you to name any more pleasurable experience in life than the sensation of hot jelly dribbling down your chin.

The finer details
Review date: 2nd January 2022
Price: £3.95 for a large pork pie
Address: Granby Rd, Bakewell DE45 1ES
Website: https://gingerbutchers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/newclosefarm/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gingerbutchers/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gingerbutchers/
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

 

 

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

To buy a copy of my first book about pies, Life of Pies for just £4.99 plus P&P, please click here

 

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/
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of the original Pie Bible, Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P https://www.lifeofpies.co.uk/buy/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Top