Saturday, 23 August 2014

Pie at Edgbaston? That’s just not cricket!

I’m going to have to start this post off with a disclaimer – I don’t love cricket, I like it. There you go. Not a great marketing campaign slogan, I know, but as you will no doubt realise by now our love lies elsewhere on the Pierate Ship. Which is why I have to say I’m bowled over by decision of the catering management at Edgbaston Cricket Club in Birmingham (home to the Birmingham Bears 20-20 Cricket team) to sell pies in their cricket stadium!

Pie Review at Edgbaston Cricket Ground
Peter's pie at Edgbaston Cricket Ground

Yes, you read that right! Pie at Edgbaston? That’s just not cricket! But while other cricket grounds may be stumped at what food they can sell to keep the cricketing fans happy, Edgbaston’s catering team have got a quick wicket with the catch of catering world – a fully encased pie which no one will want to let slip. You’d be bat-ty not to go for one really.

Of course it is no real surPIEse that cricket is jumping on the bandwagon of football, badminton and the Olympic Games (London 2012) in serving pie at sporting events – something you can see in our article “Pies and sports: the best match ever!

And if you're ever in need of a pie recommendation, we're the ideal umPIEres for that - with tons of pies rated and reviewed for you (over 400 in fact!) You'll no longer have to ask "Howzat?!" when needing a pie - just check out our pie rankings!

So if you’re at Edgbaston today to enjoy the 20-20 finals day, why not check out the pie catering options available (particularly sold in the new main stand, where I bought my pie a few weeks ago for pie friend Caroline’s birthday bash!) Just make sure you get there before they all run out!!!

And if you like your pies sporty, then you'll be pleased to hear of the launch of the PIEremiership - our growing list of all the top half-time football pies around the country.

Pieremiership Football Pie Review League


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pie at Edgbaston? That’s just not cricket!"

Friday, 22 August 2014

Are The Real Pie Company the real deal?!

The Real Pie Company Steak, Chicken and Pork Pie Reviews

Forget the 7 colours of the rainbow or the 7 dwarves. We have a far more important “7” to tell you about on the web’s leading pie review blog – and for once it’s not actually the 7 Cs! (Though let’s face it, they’re going to get a mention or two!)

For a box of pies arrived on my desk recently that were not just any old pies – these were the real deal! Or at least that’s what the pie packaging indicated – but we’ll be the judge of whether these are real-ly good pies or not when they get an official pie rating on the 7 Cs!

The Real Pie Company Pie Review
The pie packaging was a real pielight

I think the first thing to mention is that these were some of the most nicely packaged pies I have ever seen – and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of pie packaging in my time! While the pie packaging is not specifically part of the actual pie review, it certainly gave a great first imPIEression – and quite unique in offering a cross-section of the inside of the pie. This is something pie companies often don’t show, perhaps because they are scared that their lack of filling will be exposed, resorting to hiding their poor air:filling ratio inside the pastry parcel.

Well at you will not be surPIEsed to hear that we are loving the “Crammed to the Crust” slogan that adorns the pie packaging on these “The Real Pie Company” products. After all, with capacity one of the famous 7 Cs, we certainly think highly of a strong filling! And these The Real Pie Company pies had a really good capacity throughout their range.

But before we get down to the specific flavours, a word on these hand crafted pies in general…

The pies had a good pastry – golden and crisp – nice eaten cold but preferred hot. They had the classic shortcrust base and sides, with golden puff pastry lid. As mentioned previously, the pies scored very well on the 7 Cs for capacity - packed to capacity with lots of meat! The meat was in general very nice and tender, though in some of the pies the pieces of meat were rather big and the flavours might have mixed better had the meat been chopped up slightly finer and mixed better within the sauce/gravy. Also there was some nice gravy and sauces, in the steak and pork pie in particular.

At £2.95 each for a pie so packed with meat, this represents a good price, though they aren’t the biggest pies and thus aren’t quite the perfect value pies. But you can buy in bulk on The Real Pie Company website to get your pies cheaper.

Steak and Mushroom
This pie was eaten cold at the world’s first ever Piecnic, which you can read about and see in our video here. The meat was lovely and tender, with a nice thick gravy which complemented the steak really well. Would happily eat this pie hot or cold, a real bonus on the 7 Cs to rate so well as a pie eaten cold.

The Real Pie Company Steak and Mushroom Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.5, Total: 6.21/7]

Steak and Guinness
A nice Guinness flavour to this pie’s gravy added to the nice tender steak. The pie was packed with steak and the flavours worked well.

The Real Pie Company Steak and Guinness Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.5, Total: 6.21/7]

Steak and Kidney
The pie was a good balance of steak and kidney – slightly more weighted towards the steak (as we believe steak and kidney pies should be!) The flavours worked well together.

The Real Pie Company Steak and Kidney Pie
Score: 6.04/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 5.5, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6, Total: 6.04/7]

Meat and Potato
The Meat and Potato pie had the same good quality pastry and was packed to the crust with filling, though the minced beef and potato struggled to live up to the amazing standards of the other meat pies. The flavours in the pie were quite strong and while the mince and potato tasted nice, they didn’t blow me away. A decent pie but never going to challenge the others on the 7 Cs.

The Real Pie Company Meat and Potato Pie
Score: 5.29/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5, Condition 5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 4, Content 5, Total: 5.29/7]

Chicken and Ham
Chicken and Mushroom

Ironically their ‘packed to capacity’ philosophy was almost slightly to the detriment of the chicken pies we rated, with a bit too overpowering a chicken flavour (overly large chunks of chicken) and a sauce that was nice but didn’t blow me away. The two chicken pies almost had a bit too much chicken in them and not enough other flavourings to get the perfect content on the 7 Cs, so while not bad pies it didn’t quite reach the heights of the pork and steak pies.

The Real Pie Company Chicken and Ham Pie and Chicken and Mushroom Pie
Score: 5.57/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.57/7]

Pork, Bacon and Parsley
Wow! The main criticism of this pie is that one just wasn’t enough - it was just too nice! Flavoursome and with a nice thick sauce, with great tender pies of actual pork (not the cured pork you would often find in a traditional pork pie) and bacon. I could probably have eaten 3 or 4 in one sitting – they were just so tasty. The sauce was really nice, complementing the meat well. I just wish there were more pork meat and sauce pies out on the market, with this one surely being the pork and sauce pie to beat! A great scoring pie!

The Real Pie Company Pork, Bacon and Parsley Pie
Score: 6.46/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 7, Consistency 6.75, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.75, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.75, Total: 6.46/7]

So there we have it: they real-ly have done a great job with these pies – all scoring at least Pierate Recommended status but with 4 Pierate Highly Recommended pies! But the stand out pie for me was the Pork, Bacon and Parsley Pie. A great job by The Real Pie Company and I eagerly await their fruit pie offerings too!

(And yes, for those counting, there were actually 7 mentions of the 7 Cs in this article – not including this last one! It’s as if I planned it that way…)

continue reading "Are The Real Pie Company the real deal?!"

Saturday, 16 August 2014

PIEremiership - Pierate's Football Pie League kicks off!

Football Pie League Pieremiership
Our new logo to celebrate the re-launch of our football pie article!

It will be of no sur-pies to our regular pie blog readers that we have eaten a pie or two at football grounds up and down the country! In fact, we were delighted to be invited as VIPs (Very Important Pie Eaters) to Morecambe FC in January 2014 to rate their pies (and do a 5 minute interview for their website!) and also got special treatment and a free pie at The Emirates Stadium with Delaware North Companies UK. But really, we've only just started!

That's why the Pierateers are making a new #PiePledge to visit even more football grounds this season - and quite obviously eat and rate a pie at each one we do!

Sure, you may be thinking hasn't someone already done the 'pie at every ground' thing? - and in part, you would be right. But while Tom Dickinson had a lot of success and press coverage for his "92 pies" idea - including a book which we have rated on the 7 Cs - he will be the first to admit he didn't actually rate the pies very much. In fact, they hardly get rated or even mentioned at all in the book! We at Pierate consider this a missed opPIEtunity and are set to put the pies to the 7 Cs test - attempting to rate as many football pies as we can!

It may take a while to rate them all - we certainly can't manage it in a season (unless someone sponsors us enough to mean we can quit our day jobs!) - but we hope to rate as many football pies as we can!

Football Pie League - Barnet
A Pukka Pie at the very last football league match at Underhill (Barnet FC)

You'll be able to see the results of our football pie endevours by visiting our "PIEremiership: Pierate's Football Pie League" article, which is now available as a clickable link on the right hand side of the site if you're viewing Pierate on your desktop or selecting the menu on your mobile phone view!

And of course we'd love to hear from you - the pie fans - who have no doubt also enjoyed (or detested) a pie at football grounds up and down the country! Leave a comment in the box below if you have a pie to suggest we rate or avoid!

Here's to a great 2014/15 season, both on the pitch and (more importantly) in the pie kitchen!


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "PIEremiership - Pierate's Football Pie League kicks off!"

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Should the Scotch Pie be Independent?

The debate about whether Scotland should be independent from the UK rages on, but the politicians just don't seem able to give the answers that people are looking for. For instance, absolutely no one has addressed what the impact could be on the Scotch Pie, an icon of Scottishness and all-round fantastic creation. Well never fear... we have carried out thorough investigations into what makes the best Scotch Pies, even having judged at the Scotch Pie Awards. This has put us in a good position to analyse whether the Scotch Pie should be independent. Here are our thoughts...


It is true that Scotch pies are easily found across the UK in most supermarkets. However, at the risk of being accused of applying a personality to an inanimate pastry case with minced animal filling, I would say that the Scotch Pie doesn't give a damn about England, Wales or Northern Ireland. It is only there because it has to be. The Scotch Pie is undoubtedly Scottish (not like that imposter the Scotch Egg!) and seems to be at home in its natural habitat of Scotland. Scotch pies are everywhere across Scotland and also the Scotch pie case is commonly used for many other Scottish pies such as the Macaroni Cheese. The Scotch Pie has similarities to other British pies but certainly has its own unique flavour and identity. It is very Scottish, but this of course isn't enough, it can be Scottish and perhaps still benefit from being in the Union.

The first question is; can the Scotch Pie be independent? I would argue that of course the Scotch Pie can be a successful small pie if it was independent. The Scotch Pie Awards have been running since 2002, much longer than their equivalent British Pie Awards. We observed the professional nature of these awards when we judged. The Scotch Pie Club have even provided guidance to the British Pie Awards. The Scotch Pie Awards have proved to be an excellent way of promoting the Scotch Pie and raising standards. There is no reason to think success would not continue if the Scotch Pie was independent.

The next question is whether the Scotch Pie would gain any advantages if it were independent? There may be benefits to the 'Scottish Brand' if independence were gained, which would also benefit the Scotch Pie. This argument doesn't seem very strong because the brand already seems to market itself well.


The Scotch pie benefits from promotion across the UK via the media. For instance, the Scotch Pie Awards were headline news on the BBC website in 2014, receiving much publicity. The SNP have said that independence would see the creation of a Scottish Broadcasting Service and presumably the remainder of the BBC would then focus attention on the rest of the UK, losing this publicity. This would probably apply to other media also.

There is also the question of whether the Scotch Pie would still be able to compete at the British Pie Awards.  These have provided good publicity for Scottish pies, with Boghall Butchers doing particularly well this year. Presumably Scotch pies and Scottish Pie companies would still be able to compete as they would still be 'British' but this is uncertain. There might be a bit of resentment from the rest of the UK towards Scotland for leaving.

Scotch Pie
Should I be independent? Such a difficult decision!


Maintaining the Union would bring certainty to the Scotch Pie, no change means no risk. Only one thing is for certain with Independence, Scotland would undoubtedly get custody of the Scotch pie, even if the divorce is a bit messy. I don't think anyone can really say whether the Scotch Pie would be better off if it was independent, there is too much that we won't know unless independence goes ahead. A bit like slicing into a pie, you don't know whether the filling is going to be great, or disappointing, until you have gone past the point of no return. The question really comes down to a gut feeling of whether the Scotch Pie should be independence and, if you believe it should be, then the risk might be worth taking.

At least when it is all over, there will be less talking about polictics and more time to eat pie #lesspolicticsmorepies


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Should the Scotch Pie be Independent?"

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Should you pocket a Pocklington's Steak Pie?

Pocklington’s Bakery Steak Pie Review

You could be forgiven for thinking that when you've rated well over 400 pies on the web’s leading pie review website, there can’t be many new ways to review a pie?! Well, prepare to be amazed as we rate the Pocklington's Bakery Steak Pie and find out if you should pocket a Pocklington's!

For this is not one pie review, or two, but a triple review of the same pie! InsPIEred somewhat by the packaging saying this pie was delicious eaten hot or cold, we thought we’d put that to the pie rating test! How would it rate on the Seven Cs? Interestingly though, this happens to be the first time we've ever rated the same pie cold, microwaved and oven cooked, to give this pie a proper grilling!*

(*Okay, so admittedly grilling was one thing we didn't do to this pie… but you get the idea!)

So… in reverse order:

Pocklington's Steak Pie - Cold Edition Pie Review
Pocklington's Steak Pie - Cold Edition
Cold - It did say that it was delicious eaten hot or cold but we would strongly dispute that it was “delicious” cold. The pastry was just too hard and thick; there wasn't enough sauce to help it go down. This wasn't helped by the fact that the pie we ate cold had a large air gap. However, the pie did well in some of the other criteria. It was quite big for £1.55 and there were some sizeable meaty chunks. It was nice in a way that there was this option for eating cold but I would not recommend it unless you were really desperate. If I was scoring it at this temperature alone I would score it 4.25 out of 7. Not bad, but not something I would recommend.

Pocklington's Steak Pie - Microwaved Edition
Pocklington's Steak Pie - Microwaved Edition
Microwaved - This pie seemed to undergo a radical transformation after a short time being bombarded by electromagnetic radiation. The pastry became soft and tasty, it seemed to lose the greasy taste it had before. Despite this, the pie retained its tall structure very well; often pies will collapse upon being microwave cooked. The pie we used for microwave cooking also benefited from being very well filled. The packed content of meaty chunks was great value at £1.55. Overall, the pie did remind me slightly of a Pukka steak pie from a fish and chip shop, perhaps as they are often reheated in a microwave. It had the same delightfully thick sauce. However, it did better than a standard Pukka, it wasn't so stodgy and had more flavours going for it. There was a nice oniony taste which wasn't overpowered by salt. For this price it was great value and we would score it 5.70 out of 7 if we were scoring at this temperature alone.

Pocklington's Steak Pie - Oven Cooked Edition Pie Review
Pocklington's Steak Pie - Oven Cooked Edition

Oven Cooked – As mentioned previously, the pie underwent significant transformation upon the addition of heat – and the oven cooking piped the microwaved version slightly, as the pastry maintained a bit more crispiness than the microwaved version. Again the pie was well filled with nice big steak chunks, particularly impressive for a pie costing just one English pound and 55 English pennies. The gravy tasted so much better warmed up and oozing out of the pie, compared to the unheated version. A definite winner if you can hold out longer than it takes to microwave a pie! We would score it 5.90 out of 7 if we were scoring this pie oven cooked.

The reviewing of this pie over three different cooking/non-cooking levels does leave us with a slight quandary – which score should make it into the Pierate Pie Rankings?! We’ve decided that the oven cooked version should be the nominated score, as this reflects the best way to eat this pie – which is something we are always looking for on board the Pierate Ship. Sure, if a pie box says it’s a microwavable pie, we should score it microwaved, but for this pie we prefer it oven cooked. Still, it is a Pierate Recommended pie eaten microwaved or oven cooked.

Well done to Pocklington’s Bakery! We enjoyed our little search around the North Lincolnshire area to find a store selling your pies (just remember to look for the Lincolnshire Co-ops – not just all the Co-ops in Lincolnshire!) and – while we only found the steak pie on sale in the shops we visited – we sure hope to pocket another Pocklington’s pie in the near future!

Pocklington’s Bakery Steak Pie
Score: 5.90/7

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Should you pocket a Pocklington's Steak Pie?"

Monday, 11 August 2014

Man buys entire store's worth of Burger King apple pies

Image: flickr / Mike Mozart

Reports are circulating that a man bought the entire stock of apple pies in a branch of Burger King in a bid to spite an "out of control" child and his mother behind him in the queue.

Explaining his whopper of a pie purchase, the man wrote on reddit "‘This kid was out of control, screaming, punching his mother, throwing around a gameboy whenever something didn’t go right in the game." After the child started screaming for apple pie, the man asked the mother to settle the child down. However, he was ignored and told to mind his own business. 

'I then decide to ruin their day', writes the man, as he proceeded to buy all of the 23 remaining apple pies in the store.

The official Pierate statement is: it wasn't us (although we did recently have 28 Holland's Steak and Guinness pies).

We hope he thoroughly enjoys his pies - he deserves them. Mr Burger King pie man - we salute you.
continue reading "Man buys entire store's worth of Burger King apple pies"

Pieminister Lighter pies under the knife

Pieminister have added 'Lighter Pies' to their range - seemingly in response to a growing consumer trend towards lower calorie options. The range includes "light as a feta" - a butternut squash, feta and sundried tomato pie, "kooky chook" - a free range British chicken, sweet potato, coconut and chilli pie, and "chickalito" - a free range British chicken and dry cured ham pie. But what happens when a "lighter" pie is literally lighter, yet still costs the same?

Pieminister Pie Review - Chickalito

Today, and also previously, under the Pierate knife is the Chickalito pie. It's a pie that is (literally) surrounded with controversy. With these new lighter pies, Pieminister have made the significant decision to do away with the pastry lid, instead opting for a herb and seed crumb topping. For instance, here the chickalito's chicken, ham, courgette and celeriac filling is topped off with a pine nut, sunflower seed, basil and Parmesan crumb.

pieminister pie review

pieminister pie review

Pierateer RAS has already done the service of rating this Pieminister chickalito pie, but since I've eaten it myself I thought I'd weigh in with a few views of my own. I won't go through the details of how the pie tasted because I agree very much with what RAS has already said, but what confuses me about this pie is that, despite weighing only 240g, it costs the same as a regular 270g pie (prices checked on Ocado 05/06/2014: moo pie £3.50, chickalito pie £3.50). 

So these Pieminister Lighter pie are literally lighter than their regular counterparts, and hence cost more per gram of pie. But not only that, the Lighter pies are billed as the lower calorie choice. But how much lower calorie are they compared to Pieminister's classic offering? I did a bit of number crunching and  munching on the calorie contents of the pies, and it seems that while the Lighter pies do indeed have fewer calories than the classic pies, the difference isn't as great as you might think. For instance, the lighter kooky chook pie has 182 kcal per 100g. In contrast, the classic wildshroom pie has 190 kcal, the moo pie has 200 kcal, and the deerstalker has 204 kcal. The big question is, then, is it really worth sacrificing the pastry lid just to cut out a few calories? 

The above thoughts, however, are far less important than the actual question of whether these Pieminister pies are any good. And to find out, I just had to try another pie from the range (I know!). This one is a vegetarian pie called Light As A Fetaand it is a butternut squash, feta and sun-dried tomato pie. 

pieminister pie review

Pieminister Pie Review - Light as a Feta

Retailing at £3.50, this is at the more premium end of the supermarket pie spectrum, and as already discussed, there is some controversy over pricing this 240g pie the same as a regular 270g pie. I bought this pie from a stall, and spooned only a little gravy on the top.

pieminister pie review
Slicing open the pie, you can see the yummy looking contents complete with a few chunks of feta cheese. However it's impossible to comment on an air-gap since this pie has no lid. Regardless of this, it seems this pie is filled nearly up to the level of the brim of the pastry. The lack of depth to this pie makes is more akin to a quiche that a pie. If the pastry were a little softer, you would be calling this a quiche, really. 

That said, the filling was delicious, it really was. It tasted fresh like summer and didn't leave me longing for meat (like some vegetarian options can do!). I really enjoyed the filling - certainly the best part of this pie. The feta cheese was delicious and complemented the butternut squash delightfully.

The addition of poppy seeds to the pastry was a nice touch. However, I felt the pastry was a bit dry for my liking and required gravy for softening. If the pie had a proper lid, I think the filling could have been more moist without the need for additional gravy. In the case of this pie, I think the lack of lid really held this pie back. In my opinion, it's worth sticking a lid on the top to make it a proper pie.

Pieminister "Light As A Feta" pie review
Score: 4.4/7

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. We've already rated a number of Pieminister pies.

For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pieminister Lighter pies under the knife"

Saturday, 9 August 2014

500 Pierate posts celebrated with Piecnic video!

Just over a week ago, the pie review experts at Pierate started their latest campaign, which coincides with celebrating 500 posts on their pie website, inviting you to add pie to your picnic and:


Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds! As the strapline goes – “Just add pie!”

You can find out more about the campaign by visiting our "Make a Picnic a Piecnic" article, but on Sunday 3rd August the campaign became a reality, as we held the World's first ever official Piecnic! So without further ado, here's the short video PIElights for you to enjoy and insPIEre you to have your own piecnic soon!

Of course we'd love to hear from you if you "just added pie" to your picnic and made it a piecnic! Do leave a comment below, tweet us at @pierateers (ideally using #MakeAPicnicAPiecnic) or contact us. We'll happily add photos of other piecnics happening up and down the country, so if you email us then we can give you your 5 seconds of pie fame!

Of course with any production of this nature, it takes a whole group of people to make it happen, so thanks particularly go to our pieduction man ("BH") - yes, he was paid in pies! - and all who starred in the video - particularly our first ever Honourary Pierateer Toby, who kindly took time out of growing his curly hair to be with us (and yes, he did eventually say "PIE!!!!" - Good lad, Toby!)

Thanks also to The Real Pie Company for providing some free pies, to Gill and Helen for providing homemade pies and Rach for bringing a highly sought after Bray’s Cottage Pork Pie all the way from Norfolk!

All it really remains for me to say is: When you're planning your picnics this summer, make a picnic a piecnic and just add pie!!!

Make a Picnic a Piecnic Review
Pies at the World's first ever Piecnic!


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. And yes - incredibly this is post number 500 on the web's leading pie review website! Thanks to all the pie fans out there who have shown us so much great support!

For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "500 Pierate posts celebrated with Piecnic video!"

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Reci-pie Review: The Great British Steak Pie Bake Off

#TeamMary Pie

I am currently very VERY excited, and you should be too.

Why? Because the new series of Great British Bake Off is nearly here! To keep myself occupied while I wait impatiently, I’ve been conducting a reci-pie review in honour of the two great baking deities that are Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Yes, you read that correctly, I tested out two pies at once this time. It was the battle of the baking legends… Mary Berry vs Paul Hollywood in the GREAT BRITISH STEAK PIE BAKE OFF!

Re-live the pielights of British Bake Off 2013's finale with their Picnic Pie Challenge! See all the pies and our Pierate analysis in our article "Great British Bake Off - The Final: Pie Review Tweets"

Winner Frances Quinn's Picnic Pie - Screenshot from BBC

#TeamPaul Pie

The recipes:
It was difficult to choose which pies I wanted to bake because between them Mary and Paul have a pretty extensive baking repertoire. For a fair comparison I chose two steak pies – Mary Berry’s steak and mushroom and Paul Hollywood’s meat and potato.

Mary Berry’s steak and mushroom pie – from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook, p. 224

The filling:
I large onion, chopped
750g stewing steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
30g plain flour
½ pint beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
500g mushrooms

The pastry:
Shortcrust pastry, brushed with beaten egg

The method:
Fry the onions and brown the steak, then add the flour and cook for a few minutes. Then add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and simmer for 2 hours. Add the mushrooms and simmer for a further 30 minutes before leaving the filling to cool. Meanwhile, make the shortcrust pastry. Use a thin strip around the edge of the pie dish, then top the pie with the rest –(use a pie bird in the middle). Cut off the excess pastry and crimp the edges, make sure there’s a hole in the top for the steam to come out and then brush the pastry with beaten egg. Cook at 200 degrees C for 30 minutes. 

Paul Hollywood’s meat and potato pie – from Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds, p.92

The filling:
2 large onions, chopped
700g chuck steak (braising steak), cut into 1 inch pieces
400g waxy potatoes, cut into small chunks
400g floury potatoes, cut into small chunks
Salt and pepper

The pastry:
Suet pastry 

The method:
Put the onions, steak, salt and pepper in a pan, with just enough water to cover them. Simmer for 1 ½ hours, then add the potatoes and simmer for another ½ hour or until the potatoes are cooked. Pour off some of the liquid to use as gravy (leave enough so that the mixture still has some sauce) then leave the filling to cool while you make the pastry. Use a thin strip around the edge of the pie dish, then top the pie with the rest, cutting off the excess pastry and crimping the edges. Make a hole in the top for the steam to come out then cook at 200 degrees C for 30-40 minutes then rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The Seven Cs:

Both pies scored very highly in this category, with Mary’s pie turning golden brown and Paul’s a slightly darker brown. Both kinds of pastry looked crispy and appetising.

Mary’s pie scored slightly higher here, as the gravy in this pie was a little bit thicker than Paul’s, and the Worcestershire sauce made it taste just that little bit nicer. However Paul’s does give you extra gravy to pour all over your pie/mash/chips/peas/beans/whatever, which is a bonus, so again it was pretty close.

I hate to say it, but neither Paul nor Mary scored very highly here because both recipes call for a top crust only. Technically there was plenty of filling in the pie dish, but I’m writing for pie purists here so I’m going to have to deduct some points for the lack of pastry bottom and sides. 

Luckily, Paul and Mary have redeemed themselves here with top marks. The beef in both pies is deliciously soft and melts in your mouth, the mushrooms in Mary’s pie and the potatoes in Paul’s pie add an interesting texture and the onions in both are soft and melty and delicious. I kept eating both fillings while I was waiting for them to cool because they were so tasty.

There really isn’t much in this. Both pies are very reasonable, with only a few ingredients that aren’t store-cupboard staples (in fact as I usually have mushrooms, onions and potatoes for other recipes the only things I needed to buy were beef and suet). You also get massive pies so you can either feed all your friends and family or hang onto the leftovers for future meals, so you’re going to get good value either way.

I’ll be honest, neither of these scores points for originality, but the classics are classics for a reason. Both pies are delicious. In our house Mary Berry won (but only just) because we liked the gravy in her pie better, but no self-respecting pie fan is going to turn their nose up at either of these.

Both pies came out of the oven looking beautiful, and they held together really well when we served them. Top marks for both.

And the winner is…
I’m just not sure I can choose – it’s going to have to be one of those rare Bake Off weeks where no contestants are sent home. When I tasted the fillings I was pretty sure Mary had won this one – I cannot oversell that delicious gravy. Unfortunately the competition was made more complicated when I tried the pastry…don’t get me wrong, I love shortcrust pastry on a pie, but Paul’s suet pastry was just so golden and crispy, with such a lovely flavour from the beef suet, that I kept going back to both pies for more!

I’d definitely encourage you to try these pies and see which you think is best, though I bet you won’t be able to choose either! To be honest, I think the ultimate pie would use Mary’s filling with Paul’s pastry – which just goes to prove that they make as good a partnership when it comes to pie as they do when it comes to Bake Off judging!

The Ship's Cook

continue reading "Reci-pie Review: The Great British Steak Pie Bake Off"

Monday, 4 August 2014

The world’s first piecnic – we just added pie!

Just over a week ago, the pie review experts at Pierate started their latest campaign, inviting you to add pie to your picnic and:


Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds! As the strapline goes – “Just add pie!”

And if you're still not convinced, see our video at the bottom of the article!

So on Sunday 3rd August, around 40 members of City Church joined Pierateer RAS as he organised the world’s first ever Piecnic. The visitors to the park were all strongly encouraged to bring a pie or – even better – to bake a homemade pie and bring it to share! So with the rugs set out, the sun shining and pies a plenty on offer – and believe me, there were plenty of pies on offer – the scene was set for a piefect afternoon!

Make a Picnic a Piecnic Review
Pies at the World's first ever Piecnic!

Amongst the pie offerings was a Bray’s Cottage Pork Pie, very kindly brought all the way from Norfolk by Rach, which we have pie rated recently and tasted great! This was in fine company with a number of Pat Gorman pork pies from Aldi, a pie from Morrisons, pork pies from Sainsbury’s and one from Higgidy’s!
Higgidy Pie Review
Higgidy's Chicken and Smoky Spanish Chorizo Pie

But one of the pielights was the Real Pie Company’s Steak and Mushroom pie, which I decided to try cold. With a whole selection sent for us to rate and the label mentioning they could be eaten hot or cold, I decided one of them should be tried at the world’s first ever piecnic. And what a great decision! Packed to capacity, just as it mentioned it would be on the wrapper, it was a delightful pie and I look forward to eating the others this week.

Finally, a huge thank you should be made to Gill and Helen, who both brought along homemade pies to share! In particular Gill made this delightful looking pie, made following the Hairy Biker’s reciPIE for ham, potato and apple pie!

Hairy Biker's Ham Pie
The Hairy Biker's Ham, Potato and Apple Pie

Thanks to everyone who came along, including our first ever Honourary Pierateer Toby, and – while I may be a little pie-ased – it seemed a roaring success well worth repeating! And with a fair bit of filming done while we were at the park, here is our very own #MakeAPicnicAPiecnic promotional video!


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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continue reading "The world’s first piecnic – we just added pie!"

Friday, 1 August 2014

In the Red Corner We Have Piebury

Piebury Corner - Pie Reviews

There is a corner of Highbury & Islington devoted to pies, one that you may have heard of before because they are loved by our very own Pierateer RAS, who has reviewed a number of their pies, putting a couple of them right near the top of our pie rankings. I was delighted to finally get my hands on some of these pies which come so highly regarded, so of course I had to get a few!

I got a Lamb & Veg because this had been reviewed highly by Mr RAS. I also got a couple of pies not yet in our pie rankings, a Steak & Ale and a Chicken Balti. After refusing gravy on my pie (as I wanted to experience it in the purest form) they kindly gave me a separate pot of gravy. Sadly this backfired as I suffered a gravy explosion all over my take away pies and the bag, a bit of a nightmare, but my fault for taking the pies away on my bike. That aside, Piebury Corner seemed like a lovely little place and I was very impressed by the large array of pies on offer.

Piebury Corner Chicken Balti Pie

These pies were all the same shape and had the same pastry so I have some general comments which apply to them all. I can see why RAS likes them so much, the pastry in particular was the kind of pastry that exemplifies what I look for in pie pastry. It was crisp on the outside but soft and gooey in the middle. It also held together really well because it was fairly thick which meant it could be eaten with your hands if desired. The pastry also tasted very nice on its own. They were all well presented with some decorative pastry features and a nice colour. The pies were completely packed with filling but with only a small amount of boil out. I think this was achieved because there wasn’t much sauce in general. However, for me there was a downside, these pies were just too shallow for my liking. They didn’t look like what I imagine the perfect pie to look like. They were quite shallow and this combined with the thick pastry meant I thought they were a bit ‘pastry heavy’ and missed the ideal pastry to filling ratio. They were also a little bit small and I could have quite easily eaten more than one in one meal (but I do really love pies). But don’t let this put you off trying these pies, they are great, I would much rather have a pie which has a smaller capacity which is packed with content than one with an airgap. It is also nice to have a smaller pie of better quality, more isn’t always more fulfilling as I have found before… They were £3.50 cold or £4.80 hot, although the prices do vary with some of the other pies. The addition of roasties for a couple of quid more was welcome.

Lamb & Veg

There was a great lamb flavour from this pie and plenty of pieces of meat. The veg seemed to mainly just be carrot but it was very nice and it wasn’t overcooked, which is difficult in a pie. Overall this really was delicious. See the full review by RAS.

Piebury Corner Lamb Pie

Steak & Ale

Condition – 5.8 out of 7 – Nicely presented although some boil out.

Colour – 6.5 out of 7 – A pretty darn good golden brown.

Cheapness – 4.5 out of 7 – The price was comparable to other gourmet pie companies in London such as Battersea Pie Station and Square Pie. I couldn’t help feeling though that these pies were a little small.

Capacity – 4.5 out of 7 – Quite a small capacity but it was well filled.

Chewiness – 6.9 out of 7 – A fabulous texture throughout the pie.

Content – 6.7 out of 7 – It didn’t do anything special with the flavours but it did capture the Steak & Ale taste perfectly. There were nice meaty chunks to sink my teeth into. Some great seasoning.

Consistency – 6.5 out of 7 – This pie was very, very easy to eat (although it was all gone too soon, I forgot to take a photo until I had nearly eaten it all). A little more gravy would have been nice but it was still lovely and moist.

Steak & Ale (Piebury Corner)

Piebury Corner Steak Ale Pie

Chicken Balti

Condition – 6.0 out of 7 – Nicely presented.

Colour – 6.5 out of 7 – A pretty darn good golden brown.

Cheapness – 4.5 out of 7 – Same as Steak & Guinness

Capacity – 4.5 out of 7 – Quite a small capacity but it was well filled.

Chewiness – 5.8 out of 7 – A fabulous texture throughout the pie. The chicken was chunky and fibrous.

Content – 3.5 out of 7 – On my first bite I thought this was going to be really nice, the flavours were proper curry spices, not generic curry sauce as many curry pies have. However, after eating a bit more I found the whole thing very bland, there wasn’t enough spice for me, it wasn’t hot at all. I am not sure whether my pie was just lacking any sauce as it was almost entirely taken up by pieces of chicken. This may have been where the problem was.

Consistency – 3.5 out of 7 – This pie was again very easy to eat but didn’t really quite work holistically, there needed to be a bit of sauce to give it the consistency I would expect from a Balti pie which normally have plenty of sauce, like a Balti curry does.

Chicken Balti (Piebury Corner)

Piebury Corner Chicken Balti Pie


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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continue reading "In the Red Corner We Have Piebury"

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Goat Pie – Two Tickets to The Gun Show!

The Gun (Docklands) Goat and Paprika Pie Review

Having been invited down to The Gun pub in the Docklands, on the River Thames overlooking the O2 Arena (ex-Millennium Dome), we couldn’t have arrived on a nicer day! The sun was blazing and I had the pleasure of once again meeting up with friends and Pierateers in Training Ashleigh and Olivia. It was pie time!
The Gun Docklands Pie Review
The Gun, Docklands

But yes, okay, so the eagle eyed of you will have spotted that’s three people and the title says “Two tickets to the gun show”… well, let’s just say I was hardly going to call it “Three tickets to the gun show”, was I! I may not have a degree in marketing but we know how to have plenty of pun and games on the web’s leading pie review blog! And with an arsenal of gun puns ready to fire, let’s get on with the pie review!

So… time to judge this pie then! In the dock(lands) is…

“Pie of Devonshire Kid, sautéed onions and carrots, smoked paprika topped with homemade puff pastry (served with garlic mashed potato, parsley and oregano liquor with kid gravy”

What a mouthful – and I’m not just talking about the name! This pie had a delicious flavour to it, something I was intrigued by as I had never had goat pie – or goat full stop! Naturally this makes it the best rated goat pie we’ve eaten! But how would it rate on the 7 Cs?

The Gun Docklands Goat Pie Review
The Gun Docklands Goat Pie Review

Colour: 6.5 out of 7 – Nice golden coloured lid, with quite a unique orange coloured filling

Consistency: 5.5 out of 7 – While the filling of the pie was quite runny, it was a very flavoursome filling, with the meat and veg well distributed throughout the pie

Capacity: 5 out of 7 – It has to be noted that this was a top crust and thus do not meet our high standards of piefection, which require a fully encased in pastry pie. However it was noted that the capacity of the dish was well filled, with lots of meat.

Condition: 6.75 out of 7 – This was a delightfully presented meal; lovely and golden pastry with dishes of pie and potato, plus liquor and gravy on the side. It certainly felt like dining in luxury.

Chewiness: 6 out of 7 – Apart from being a top crust, the other slight negative of this pie was that the meat was rather fatty. While the actual meat itself was nice and tender, and very flavoursome, there was a fair bit of fat on it. While this may well be a common feature of goat in general, I’d have hoped for more lean meat in a pie costing £14.50.

Cheapness: 5 out of 7 – For a fancy pie meal in the heart of London, I think £14.50 was a very reasonable price to pay for a pie. Unfortunately as a top crust this did feel a bit overpriced, comparing to other pies in the London area.

Content: 5.5 out of 7 – Really good flavours in the pie, with a real meaty focus throughout and delightfully cooked veg inside the pie. The fat on the meat did unfortunately detract slightly from the content though.

The Gun Docklands Goat Pie Review
The Gun Docklands Goat Pie Review

Overall, I really enjoyed this pie meal and, while disappointed it was just a top crust, I would love to try another flavour in the future. The pie of the day is different each day, depending on what the cook decides to prepare, so I look forward to seeing what pie I eat next time! Thanks again to Barbara and Barny, who hosted us so well - a great pub to visit! And thanks to Sean and Anna for their help arranging the visit.

This is a Pierate Recommended pie and they will be pleased to know no one needs to be “fired” at The Gun after this delicious pie!

“The Gun” Goat and Paprika Pie
Score: 5.75/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 5.5, Condition 6.75, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.75/7]

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
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continue reading "Goat Pie – Two Tickets to The Gun Show!"