Friday, 30 January 2015

Reci-pie Review: Beef and Stilton Mini Pies

Last year, we were sent a tweet by @jimbolimbo9 suggesting we try two pork pastry recipes from the supermarket Morrisons. One was a pie, the other was a Wellington. Don't tell the rest of the Pierateers, but I chose to make the Wellington (well it's still pastry!) and it was delicious.

Impressed by the results I decided to gather all the supermarket pie recipes I could get my flour-covered hands on, and I've narrowed them down to one delectable-looking recipe from each of the major supermarkets. I'll be testing them out in my next few reviews, starting with...

Tesco Pie Recipe Review
Tesco Pie Recipe Review

Tesco's beef and stilton mini pies!



The recipe:

This is a great recipe for novice bakers or people who want (almost) instant pie, because it uses shop-bought pastry and doesn't involve too much preparation or cooking. You also get lots of little pies, which I quite like because it's an excuse to eat several at once.

You can find the full recipe here: http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/beef-and-stilton-mini-pies.html

I'm sure it won't come as any sur-pies to find out we've rated a whole host of Tesco pies on the Pierate Ship. Check out our Tesco Pie Rankings or see how they rank on our full Pie Rankings.



Tesco Pie Recipe Review
Tesco Pie Recipe Review

The 7 Cs of pie rating:


Colour:
These pies are topped with an egg-wash, meaning they come out a lovely golden brown colour.

Consistency:
The red wine, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée give these pies a nice thick sauce that isn't quite gravy but adds a nice consistency to the filling, ensuring that the beef isn't too dry. The melted cheese also adds a nice creaminess to the pies.

Capacity:
The recipe tells you to press the filling down firmly in the pie crusts, which means that even though these are mini pies (and could therefore be a bit heavy on the pastry) you get a nice Crust:Filling ratio and lots of delicious beefy, cheesy filling.

Chewiness:
The mince in this pie is cooked in red wine and tomato purée until the liquid is absorbed, meaning it's nice and tender and melts in the mouth. The meltiness of the cheese adds to the smooth texture, and is a nice contrast to the crisp pastry.   

Cheapness:
These score pretty well for cheapness, especially if you're like me and usually have a half-used jar of mustard in the fridge that needs using up. You also get lots of pies - the recipe says fifteen if you use a mini muffin tin, but I used a full sized muffin tin and still got nine. We had two each for dinner with vegetables and gravy, so depending on how many people you're feeding you might even get a second dinner from this recipe.

Content:
In my opinion you can't really go wrong with beef and cheese, and these pies tasted like a cross between cheeseburgers and bolognese sauce (yum). This is a bit different to your usual mince and onion pie and the melting cheese is probably the best bit - the mustard was a bit overpowering so I'd suggest you use less mustard and more cheese.

Condition:
My pies didn't look quite as neat as those in the original photo, but they were a proper, appealing pie shape and they held their shape even when I cut into them. The filling leaked out a little bit, but the little individual pies still looked very tempting once they were out of the tin.

Tesco Pie Recipe Review
Tesco Pie Recipe Review

The Ship's Cook

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.

Or why not check out the growing list of all the Ship's Cook Pie Recipe Reviews?

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
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Friday, 23 January 2015

Pieday Friday - National Pie Day - 23rd January 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!


Hap-pie #NationalPieDay everyone!

Yes, of course it is not just the British who celebrate the wonder of pie (although I do think we do an amazing job with a whole British Pie Week dedicated to pie!) The American's have set up National Pie Day to celebrate the pastry beauties - which is this year celebrated today on Friday 23rd January. This makes it an extra special Pieday Friday to enjoy pie on!

So whatever pie you enjoy today, we hope it's a good one that rates well on the 7 Cs of pie rating! If you need any ins-pie-ration, you can of course see the hundreds of pies we've rated on our pie blog via our Pie Rankings or our Pies Categorised!

Of course us Brits need far longer than just a day to enjoy pie in! Which is why we are one of the strongest promoters of British Pie Week, happening this year between Monday 2nd and Sunday 8th March 2015. You know where to come for all the latest pie news this year, but why not reminisce about the 55 pies we ate for British Pie Week 2014?!

British Pie Week 2014 Diary:










15th World Scotch Pie champion awarded!

Scotch Pies Review
Scotch Pies!
I'm sure you already know that Murrays Bakers of Perth were crowned the 15th World Scotch Pie champion, following our article on the Scotch Pie Club Awards 2015. A massive congratulations to them!

Last year's winners, The Kandy Bar in Saltcoats, also did very well again this year, winning the "Football Pie" category and scoring well in the Scotch Pie category again. You can read about their previous success and our review of the 2014 Scotch Pie Club Awards that we judged at last year.

Scotch Pie Winner Linda Hill of Murrays Bakery in Perth
Linda Hill of Murrays Bakery in Perth


Pie Tweet of the Week!

Mirror Row Zed were flattered at appearing in the last edition of Friday Pieday!




Pierate's Pie-lights of the Year

We still can't quite believe how many highlights there were to our year in 2014. It's certainly going to be hard to replicate it again, but we will pie our best! Find out more about our pie-tastic 2014 here and check out our top 6 pielights:

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - British Pie Week and all 55 pies consumed by the Pierateers in it! So many highlights, we had to do a whole day-by-day account of it, including a Python pie, a day of just eating apple pie and Pierateer SJL eating 21 pies - one for every meal of British Pie Week.

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer SJL proving that you can eat pie and lose weight!!! Yes, we can hardly believe it either!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer TJP judging at the British Pie Awards 2014, where Pierateer RAS was media correspondent!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever TV appearance came on the Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice programme, featuring Michel Roux Jnr rating the Pierateer's Crocodile Pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Featuring on the BBC Sport Website in a video on the "Pies of Football" for the Price of Football Study 2014, including travelling up to Morecambe FC to rate their latest Pork and Irn Bru pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever Birthday Pie-rty to celebrate Pierate being 5 years old!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
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Sunday, 18 January 2015

No.G - Gluten Free Pie

No.G - Chicken, Bacon & Leek Pie Review
When SJL came home from the supermarket and presented me with a No.G GF quiche and pie i was really quite excited!! Especially so as it was reduced which in my mind is even better!! We decided to have half quiche and half pie each with our dinner so whipped them in the oven and prepped the veg! They are super quick to cook, taking only 15 mins in the oven which is appealing to me as i get to impatient waiting for food when hungry!!



My first thoughts were that they were well presented - the pie even had writing on the top which is pretty smart! I thought that they were a little on the small side so was glad we had plenty of veg to go with them! First of all i tried the quiche which was amazing!! Maybe its was the fantastic quiche that gave me to high expectations for the pie, but i felt that it wasn't as good as the quiche so maybe i shouldn't have eaten them at the same time!! The pastry was soft, very crumbly and tasted like pastry we make at home, a bit floury. I thought the pastry could be more crispy like the quiche. So onto the filling....I am not sure why but the filling didn't quite win me over. I felt that the chicken could have been in bigger chunks but it did have a nice texture and wasn't at all chewy.  SJL thought there were nice flavours, but a bit bland compared to the quiche. 
Condition – 6 - Looked good with lettering, a bit broken but my fault as it said to keep it flat.
Colour – 5 - A bit pale
Cheapness – 4.75 - £2.80 is a bit expensive.
Capacity – 5.5 – No air gap, well filled. A bit shallow.
Chewiness – 6.5 - Not at all chewy
Content – 4 – Flavor didn’t inspire me.
Consistency – 5.5 - Pastry a bit floury, almost not there, kinda dissolved in the mouth, not in a good way. Good consistency to the filling.

Didn't really blow me away enough that I felt like I would want to pay £2.80 for it. Might try it again, would be keen to try more flavours as this one didn't really work for me, but I didn't think the filling tasted bad, it might be that other people would like it. Give it a go if you like chicken, bacon and leek. I did really like the Quiche but again, I wouldn't pay £2.70 very often, maybe an occasional treat.

5.32/7
Chicken, Bacon & Leek (No.G)
ALE

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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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pie & Vinyl - Music To My Ears

pie and vinyl record cafeSouthsea's Pie & Vinyl Record Cafe - Pie Reviews

If music be the food of love, play on. BUT if your love is for pies and pies are food then surely music is the pie of love of pies. I am not quite sure what this means but I think implies I need to eat more pies whilst listening to music.... which is pretty convenient as I am just about to review Pie & Vinyl, a shop which is unique in the fact that it brings pies and music together.

Based in Southsea in Portsmouth this is a lovely little place. It is half casual restaurant and half vinyl music shop (plus occasional gig venue). I love the quirky and vintage style that they have, it certainly is quite different to anywhere else I have been before. Most of the things in the restaurant look like they were cobbled together from a jumble sale. To get this retro style must have taken considerable effort and I love it! Located on a side street not far from the sea front you might initially wonder how they manage to stay in business. But upon further inspection it seems like quite a trendy area and this alternative venue fits right in.

pie and vinyl
The shop is split in two, to the left is the Restaurant and to the right in the music shop
After taking some time to admire my surroundings I need to decide on what pie to order. This is not all that easy given that there are a few flavours unlikely anything I have tried before. There are some made in house and some imported from Pieminister, Buckwell (who are a local butcher) and Sweetie Pie (who specialise in gluten free and vegan products). The only option was to order a load of pies! I was really keen firstly to try their own pies so I ordered a Chili Beef pie to eat in. But I made a couple of mistakes here. I ordered the liquor as the sauce (because I like that they had this traditional option) despite knowing that it wouldn't really go with the filling. I can’t believe I made such an error after my many years of pie reviewing experience. The pie came COVERED in the sauce and the flavour of it made it difficult to isolate the pie taste. I also made another error, I thought that the menu said that it was a default of salad with your pie but mine arrived with peas and mash. This wasn’t ideal as I had just had a heavy pie already at the football so was feeling rather full. But anyway I plowed on through what was a pretty decent, and unique, offering.


Chili Beef

pie and vinyl plate pieCondition – 5.0 out of 7 – Difficult to tell when it is covered in so much liquor but the pie itself had no obvious imperfections and looked nice with it’s HUGE pastry crimp. But I was concerned that the thick, shortcrust pastry could be dry...
Colour – 5.0 out of 7 – From what I could see it was quite glossy and appealing.
Cheapness – 5.8 out of 7 – The meal cost £6.95 which for a proper sit down meal was really quite good if you compare it to the average pub pie. Plus this was not a mass produced product as a cheap pub pie normally is.
Capacity – 4.1 out of 7 – This is one area I thought the pie was lacking, there was a lot of pastry to filling and it wasn't completely filled with the big domed lid having an air gap.
Chewiness – 5.0 out of 7 – Despite looking like it might break your teeth, the pastry was actually just nice and crunchy. The beef was in small chunks and not chewy, it was accompanied by a lot of beans which of course slipped down easily, a bit too easily, I would have liked a more to get my teeth into.
Content – 4.3 out of 7 – For me this was a very mild taste, it wasn’t at all spicy, perhaps so that it doesn’t offend some customers. I would have liked a bit more of a kick given that I ordered chili. I loved that they added beans as this made the taste stand out from other chili pies. Overall a pleasant, sweet tomato taste. The pastry also tasted good on it’s own.
pie and vinyl chili beefConsistency – 4.5 out of 7 – I found that the liquor tasted a bit ‘flour-y’ so I would avoid that next time, but given that I am reviewing the pie, it is one I would order again given the price, the lovely venue and that the pie did something a bit different.


Texan Chilli Beef / Explosions in the Pie (Pie & Vinyl [PO5 3AY])
4.81/7

After this I felt far too full for another pie so ordered the rest to take home. Unfortunately this then relied on myself cooking them correctly which I think I might have failed with for some of them. I grabbed a Fish & Chip pie as I couldn’t resist trying this flavour! I ask got a Chicken and Brocolli from the Buckwell butchers selection, a Gluten Free Vegan Thai Green Curry pie and a Gluten Free Bumbleberry pie made by Sweetie Pie. I handed the gluten free pies over to our Gluten free reviewer Pierateer ALE. She refused to give the Bumbleberry pie an official review because it lacked enough pastry to meet our definition of a pie but she did say it was ‘heavenly’. It was gone very quickly as it slid down so well. The filling was foamy and had a lovely, strong berry taste combined with a coconut taste. Despite being £2.75 it would have scored well had it been a pie. The Gluten Free Vegan Thai Green Curry didn’t go down so well with ALE. I am not sure that she was impressed that I brought her a vegan pie. You do question what they actually make the pastry out of if they can't use flour, butter or egg (we normally use egg to hold our GF pastry together). I think it is best if the review of this one doesn't see the light of day, but how about the other two? The fish and chip was especially good, see the score break down below.

sweetie pie bumbleberry pie
Bumbleberry Gluten Free Pie
pie and vinyl vegan pie
Thai Green Curry Vegan and Gluten Free Pie



Fish & Chips
pie and vinyl fish and chip pie


Condition - 5.0 out 7 – This pie was the same in style and appearance as the chili beef, it was another of the Pie & Vinyl in-house pies but not covered in liqour this time!
Colour – 5.0 out of 7
Cheapness – 4.2 out of 7 – To take away these pies cost £3.95 which doesn’t seem as good value as the eat in pie. I am not sure if I still paid the 'eat in price' despite taking them away. If so they should also have a lower 'take-away' price. They are decent size but not huge. It isn’t too much over the average for a gourmet pie and these aren’t mass produced.
Capacity – 4.8 out of 7 – Same size and shape as the Chili beef but better filled.
Chewiness – 5.3 out of 7 – The filling was pretty mushy and slipped down really easy, but again a bit too easy if anything. The same crunchy pastry as the chili beef but I think I slightly over cooked it because digging my knife in sent a piece flying across the room!
Content – 6.3 out of 7 – Absolutely fabulous, this really captured the taste of traditional fish and chips, soft, stodgy and moist, it was cooked so well in its pastry case, eat your heart out M&S! There was a layer of mushy peas, then chunky mash then a slice of fish. It was a great idea to go for chunky mash rather than chips to avoid it drying out. It was well seasoned with salt and vinegar. The mix of tastes meant it didn’t get boring.
pie and vinyl fish and chipsConsistency – 6.0 out of 7 – This worked so well together, the taste of the pastry complementing the filling and the individual elements were consistently good. This pie bags a 'Pierate Recommended' award.

Fish & Chips (Pie & Vinyl [PO5 3AY])
5.23/7


Chicken & Broccoli
buckwell pie
The pie looks big from the top...


Condition -  4.0 out 7 – And now for something completely different. This was a very traditional 'oval' shaped pie. It was scored on top and looked nice enough but nothing very special.
Colour – 4.0 out of 7 - I had this in the oven ages because it just wouldn't brown up. I think perhaps I was supposed to baste it in egg first but there were no instruction so I didn't know to do this. I also had no idea of recommended cooking times. It eventually browned a little but was a bit too matt and dull looking.
Cheapness – 3.5 out of 7 – I do slightly dread these 'oval' shaped pies, the oversized pastry lid makes them look bigger than they are. They are a lot narrower at the base and hence tend to lack enough filling. Again this was £3.95 and for the size it didn't seem great value for a take away pie (perhaps they would be cheaper direct from the butchers). What does save it is that the filling had a high proportion of chicken.
...but is smaller underneath.
Capacity – 4.0 out of 7 – As discussed in the 'Cheapness' it didn't have a great Capacity. But it was completely filled which I love to see!
Chewiness – 4.7 out of 7 – The filling had a brilliant texture, it seemed like good quality meat. The shortcrust pastry was unfortunately dry but I think this was because I cooked it too long.
chicken broccoli buckwell southsea butchersContent – 6.0 out of 7 – Despite some criticism of this pie, it does well in the most important category, it tasted great! there was a nice, creamy, meaty sauce. There was load of chicken and the broccoli added something a bit different to the taste without doing anything too weird.
Consistency – 4.2 out of 7 – Good filling but the pastry could have been better, I would like to try one of these again as I don't know if I have done it justice.


Chicken & Broccoli (Pie & Vinyl/Buckwells [PO5 3AY])
4.34/7


It has taken me a while to write this review but I am please to finally have ticked of Pie & Vinyl which is a very special place and well worth a visit. I notice they have now changed their menu and increased the prices (but only slightly). They still do the Chili Beef (now called Explosions in the Pie) and the Chicken & Broccoli but sadly the Fish and Chip pie seems no longer, which is a shame as it really put a smile on my face! There are plenty of other interesting flavours like gammon cooked in dandelion & burdock, a breakfast pie and a double cheeseburger pie! Hence, I am going to keep my loyalty card in the hope that I do get to visit again.


SJL

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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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Scotch Pie Club Awards 2015

The votes are in and Murrays Bakers of Perth have today been named as the World Scotch Pie Champion 2015 by the Scotch Pie Club. It was good to see awards for other Scotch Pies that we have reviewed in our quest to find out What Makes the Best Scotch Pie, but it is clear that there are many great Scotch Pies out there that we need to review. See the table below for a full list of winners in all the categories. None of the winners have yet been reviewed by Pierate, I think the Cod and White Wine pie sounds particularly intriguing. To find out more about the Scotch Pie Awards, see our article on the Scotch Pie Club Awards 2014 where we were judging.

Scotch Pie World Champion 2015
Linda Hill of Murrays Bakery in Perth
Be warned, some of these winners are not pies, don't make a mistake and end up with a Quiche!

CategoryWinnerLocation
Scotch PieMurrays BakersPerth
Steak Pie (hand held)Ann Davidson ButchersScone
Apple PieTower BakeryPerth
Football PieWinton Rovers Scotch Pie (by The Kandy Bar)Saltcoats
Hot SavouryAJ Learmonth (for Jethart Pasty)Jedburgh
Cold SavouryTom Courts (for Boxing Day Quiche)Dumfries
Vegetarian SavouryThe Apple Pie (for Curried Veg Pie)Carnwath
Fish SavouryBoghall Butchers (Cod & White Wine Pie)Boghall
BridieNicolls Rosebank BakeryDundee
Sausage RollTom CourtsCowdenbeath


SJL
 

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 "Scotch Pie Club Awards 2015"

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Waitrose tangy onion pork pies

Waitrose Pork Pie Reviews

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more supermarket pies we hadn't rated at Pierate, I came across THREE as-yet-unrated varieties of pork pie in my local Waitrose, and just had to try them out. Here is the first of them. How does it rate on the Seven Cs?

Waitrose 2 Tangy Onion Chutney Topped Pork Pies




Colour - The pies are a nice golden brown colour. The colour of the filling is also a nice pink colour, rather than grey (as in some cheap pork pies). 5.8/7
Condition - The pies come very nicely packaged in a box to help protect their delicate chutney lids from any knocks. The pies therefore arrive in great condition. 6.2/7
Capacity - For me, the pastry is a little too thick and therefore reduces the capacity of this pie. There is a high crust:filling ratio - I would prefer more filling. There are also some airgaps around the sides of this pie, where there should be jelly but there isn't. 5.2/7
Content - The meat looks and tastes of good quality. I really like the tangy onion topping, but this does come at the expense of a pastry lid - therefore losing this pie marks (we like our pies fully encased in pastry). If the onion chutney could somehow be encorporated into this pie so it still had the pastry lid remaining, it would score highly in my books. 5/7
Consistency - Both pies taste great, therefore scoring well for consistency across the packet. 6/7
Chewiness - Neither the meat nor the pastry were particularly chewy, therefore scoring well here. 6/7
Cheapness - These pies were fairly expensive, I thought. At just under £1 per pie, these pies are too small to offer great value for money. 4.6/7

In short, I would recommend these pies for a nice picnic in the park!

Overall score: 5.54 / 7
TJP
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Friday, 9 January 2015

Pieday Friday - Scotch Pies Awards and Pie Vending Machines - 9th January 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!

After taking a week off due to the posting of our "2014 Pie-lights of the Year" article last week, Pieday Friday is back!


15th World Scotch Pie champion awarded next week!

Scotch Pies Review
Scotch Pies!
We are just days away from finding out who is awarded the 15th World Scotch Pie champion. The award will happen on Wednesday 14th January and will be presented by none other than Bay City Rollers front man and pie fanatic Les McKeown.

Of course you will remember that last year's award was won by The Kandy Bar in Saltcoats and you can read about their success and our review of the 2014 Scotch Pie Club Awards that we judged at last year.



Missing Football Pie?

It's a pie-tential nightmare situation: You've just bought a pie at your local football club and then - in the mad euphoria of celebrating your team scoring - the pie vanishes! Where did it go?! What did you do with it?! You certainly wouldn't be singing any more! Well find out what happened when this Hearts fan did exactly that at a match recently thanks to Row Zed...

Of course we're not shy to eating a pie or two at a football match! Check out our Football Pie League for the half-time pies we've rated and find out more about our interview with BBC Sport a few months back regarding the perfect football pie!



Pie Tweet of the Week!

A pie vending machine? Why has no-one ever thought of this before?! We're not quite convinced microwaving pies is the best way to get a top rated pie, but for sheer convenience and speed of pie purchasing, it's got to be up there! Good thinking Pukka! See all our Pukka Pies reviews here.




Pierate's Pie-lights of the Year

We still can't quite believe how many highlights there were to our year in 2014. It's certainly going to be hard to replicate it again, but we will pie our best! Find out more about our pie-tastic 2014 here and check out our top 6 pielights:

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - British Pie Week and all 55 pies consumed by the Pierateers in it! So many highlights, we had to do a whole day-by-day account of it, including a Python pie, a day of just eating apple pie and Pierateer SJL eating 21 pies - one for every meal of British Pie Week.

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer SJL proving that you can eat pie and lose weight!!! Yes, we can hardly believe it either!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer TJP judging at the British Pie Awards 2014, where Pierateer RAS was media correspondent!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever TV appearance came on the Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice programme, featuring Michel Roux Jnr rating the Pierateer's Crocodile Pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Featuring on the BBC Sport Website in a video on the "Pies of Football" for the Price of Football Study 2014, including travelling up to Morecambe FC to rate their latest Pork and Irn Bru pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever Birthday Pie-rty to celebrate Pierate being 5 years old!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Pieday Friday - Scotch Pies Awards and Pie Vending Machines - 9th January 2015"

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

It is not the end of Lane End

Johnstons Butchers - Pie Reviews

There are certainly positives to getting multiple Pierateers together to review the same pie. In addition to the opportunity to discuss Pierate strategic objectives and have a bit of banter it does perhaps give a more accurate review by taking account of the opinions of more than one person. There are also downsides, like waiting for Pierateer RAS to finish eating! Seriously, how does he take so long? It is like he is individually reviewing each atom of the pie! But joking aside, it was great to get together back in the Buckinghamshire village of Lane End, the vicinity of which we grew up in. But what pies were we going to review? Quite surprisingly we haven’t actually reviewed the pies from the local butcher – Johnstons. We took a stroll over there on a crisp December morning. The shop is nice, a modern village butchers which also encompasses a Post Office but most importantly they make their own pies! We picked up a slice of hot water crust Game pie and a standard Steak & Ale. No sooner had we got back to the house and Pierateer SJL drops the Game pie on the mud. School boy error! But fortunately being a fairly robust pie the edge could be sliced off still leaving a sizable chunk of pie to be reviewed, it is too the credit of this pie that there was still a good amount left for it to be split three ways between Pierateers RAS, SJL and TJP (and it still took Pierateer RAS half an hour to eat it). For an impromptu visit, with no recommendation, these pies were surprisingly good, with the cold Game Pie standing out enough to achieve 'Pierate Recommended' status. See below for the scores breakdown.

Game Pie

Condition – 6.0 out of 7 – Despite being a slice from a bigger pie it held together well, even though it was dropped on the floor before this photo was taken!
Colour – 6.0 out of 7 – Just look at that glossy deep brown, marvellous. It was only slightly verging on overdone in places.
Capacity – 6.5 out of 7 – Fantastic portion size for the price.
Cheapness – 6.4 out of 7 - £2.30 for a satisfying and meaty pie is great value.
Chewiness – 6.0 out of 7 – The pastry was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, Pierateer TJP commented it was up there with some the best hot water crust pastry. The meat wasn’t at all chewy but the jelly could have perhaps been dispersed better throughout the pie to soften it up.
Content – 5.3 out of 7 – The content was packed with meat which didn’t disappoint. There was a great taste to this pie, including from the pastry. The pie had been seasoned with stuffing and the Pierateers agreed that it perhaps tasted a bit too much of stuffing which is the main reason it hasn't quite obtained a 'Highly Recommended' status. This didn’t allow the flavours of the game to come through quite enough and made the taste a bit homogenous throughout.
Consistency – 5.5 out of 7 – Almost a Highly Recommended, this pie did a lot of things right, it was moist and satisfying. Perhaps would have done better were it a whole pie rather than just a slice (see guide to the ultimate pie).

Game Pie (Johnston Butchers [HP14 3ER])
5.96/7


Steak & Ale 

Condition – 5.0 out of 7 – This is not a bad looking pie, despite not doing anything very special. It was scored on top to denote the flavour.
Colour – 5.4 out of 7 – If we ignore the slightly over done lid (second school boy error from Pierateer SJL) then we wouldn’t want to gloss over the fact that this pie was a delightful glossy brown.
Capacity – 4.4 out of 7 – Mixed views from the Pierateers, probably depending on which section of the pie they were eating. Some parts were well filled but there is no getting away from the fact that this pie was of the shallow, oval-shaped variety where the pie significantly narrows towards the base. There wasn’t much airgap apparent but the pie did squish somewhat on slicing.
Cheapness – 3.9 out of 7 - At £2.35 this was slightly more expensive and also perhaps less satisfying than the Game pie. Given that there wasn’t a busting lot of meat and it wasn’t a particularly big pie, it could have been better value.
Chewiness – 5.4 out of 7 – Mostly nice big chunks of soft meat. The pastry was gooey and crispy in the right proportions, which slipped down well. The puff pastry went down particularly well with puff-lover Pierateer RAS.
Content – 4.5 out of 7 – This was a strange one, sold as steak and ale, both TJP and SJL thought they could detect some hint of kidney, was it mis-sold? Either way, it didn’t taste bad, in fact it was quite good. A nice meaty sauce which was thick enough to get featured on the Jeremy Kyle show. However, it didn’t soar and hit any high notes with TJP commenting it was hard to find anything interesting to say.
Consistency – 4.5 out of 7 – This pie worked well as a package but it wasn’t consistently good with some Pierateers feeling their third was a little lacking in meat. Not special enough to buy again at the price but it did taste good.

Steak & Ale (Johnstons Butchers [HP14 3ER]) 
4.73/7 

It is a shame to note that Kelly's Kitchen (who we previously reviewed) seems to be no more but it is good to see that this does not mean the end of Lane End pies with a good couple of performers from Johnstons. 

RAS, SJL and TJP 
 
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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Saturday, 3 January 2015

What is the Ultimate Pie?

Here at Pierate we often claim to be 'charting a course to find the Ultimate Pie', but what exactly is our idea of the Ultimate Pie? How will we know when we have found it?

Firstly it must meet our definition of a 'Proper Pie'. We had to define this quite early on after beginning our pie quest because there were just so many questions regarding what we considered to be a pie.

1. A pie is deemed to be a filling totally encased in pastry.
2. A pie must have sides, a base and a discernible lid made from a separate piece of pastry.

The observant amongst you will have noticed we have reviewed a number of pies which don't quite meet this definition. We may consider these to be 'pies' to some extent, but not quite the 'Proper Pies' that we are searching for. Whilst these alternatives can be very tasty, we often note in our reviews that they lose marks, simply for not wholly fulfilling the idea we have of what a Proper Pie should look like. This is often stated as 'fulfilling the quintessential essence of pieness' (thanks to 'Pie Competition in a Box' for this quote).

But there are so many great pies out there which meet this definition of a Proper Pie, what else can make a pie stand out? Naturally it must score well against the 7 Cs which are the criteria we use to score all pies, you can see the article on the 7 Cs for an explanation of these. Again, there are many pies which have scored well against the 7 Cs but for the Ultimate Pie I have something very particular in mind. I think it is time to share some of my thoughts regarding what the Ultimate Pie might look like. I have broken this down into 7 qualities, many of which are already implied by our scoring criteria. Some haven't been spelt out before, they are my speculations based on insights from the pie reviews we have done so far.

7 Qualities of the Ultimate Pie

  • Individual - We might have been brought up to share, but when it comes to pies, I would rather know where I stand. I want an individual pie, which is all mine and I can enjoy as slowly or quickly as I like. Of course we have rated many sharing size pies on Pierate but what we are really looking for is the classic single person pie.
  • Satisfying - The pie should be satisfying enough that you aren't left hungry afterwards. We might not adhere to the idea that a pie should be a whole meal in pastry but if you end up feeling you need to eat two of them, it just doesn't quite feel like it could be the Ultimate Pie.
  • Interesting - The pie must capture the attention from beginning to end with a mixtures of taste and texture. Whilst the pie should be Satisfying enough that you would struggle to eat two, it should be Interesting enough that you want to try and eat two!
  • Cohesive - The pie should not just fall apart as you try to eat it, I would expect that it would be possible to pick the Ultimate Pie up and eat it by hand. The pastry certainly shouldn't crumble and if the sauce is too thin then eating it by hand is just asking for trouble.
  • Unified - The filling and pastry should be in harmony together, each amplifying the other to make them greater than the sum of their parts. They must have been cooked together for some time to allow the filling to begin to mingle with the edges of it's new pastry soul mate. You can't just put a pastry lid on top afterwards!
  • Tall - It is a certainty that the Ultimate Pie must have a perfect Pastry to Filling ratio. As already mentioned in our scoring criteria, this will depend on the density and also the thickness of the pastry. It would seem difficult to hit this balance right were the pie not to be quite tall. This would allow it to have plenty of filling to pastry. Pies often have a lack of filling, too much is rarely a problem. Height to Width is one aspect that makes pies stand out from other pastry products. A pie which stands tall and proud is also more likely to look the part of the Ultimate Pie.
  • Meaty - This last one might be a bit controversial, but given that Pierateers RAS, SJL and TJP all cite that their favourite pie flavour is Steak, it would be a shock were the Ultimate Pie not also a Steak pie, or at the very least meatilicious in some other way. I would expect it to have quite big chunks of meat as that is what is normally found in the meat pies that score highly on Pierate. We have often described our pleasure when there are big meaty chunks in a pie to sink our teeth into. We also seem to like a rich meaty taste to the sauce. We just can't help it, we're born carnivores.

Perhaps the Ultimate Pie will not fulfil these ideals and wow us all in unexpected ways. If we had a perfect idea of what the Ultimate Pie was, we could just get it made ourselves. The truth is that we just don't know yet, but we will know when we find it... and so will you, avid reader of Pierate! You will hear of our excitement because we will not be able to contain ourselves when we do find the Ultimate Pie .... and the reason we exist is to let you know. Even if we never find it, with so many great pies out there we are still going to enjoy searching for it!

Paul's Steak & Guinness, currently top of our pie rankings, has many of the qualities of the Ultimate Pie

SJL


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 "What is the Ultimate Pie?"

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 Pierate Pie-lights!

This article cannot do Pierate's 2014 highlights justice. In a year that has included our most incredible British Pie Week efforts (55 pies in total) and our first ever radio, tv and online apperances with the BBC, it seems all our wishes came true! And I thought 2013 was a vintage year for Pierate!


But along has come 2014 with even more spectacular highlights – so many that I couldn’t possibly mention them all here, but here are just a few from 2014 in our year end review:

Pierate Ship

January

The launch of our Pierate Treasure Map - showing you where the UK (and world's) top pies have been rated. Is there a Pierate Highly Recommended pie near you?!

Our amazing V-I-P treatment at Morecambe Football Club, where we got to rate their top football pies (which still top our Pieremiership Table) and were filmed for their online channel, Shrimps Player, which you can view on youtube.

February

We added our "About Us" page, which has had over 3,000 views this year!

We introduced the #PiePledge, a way to commit to doing something pie related during British Pie Week! This also included making our own Pierateer Pie Pledges!

March

Our first radio appearance! Featuring for an hour on BCfm Radio in Bristol on the Food Show!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - British Pie Week and all 55 pies consumed by the Pierateers in it! So many highlights, we had to do a whole day-by-day account of it, including a Python pie, a day of just eating apple pie and Pierateer SJL eating 21 pies - one for every meal of British Pie Week.

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer SJL proving that you can eat pie and lose weight!!! Yes, we can hardly believe it either!

April

One of our most highly rated exotic pies - Crocodile Pie from Nice Pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer TJP judging at the British Pie Awards 2014, where Pierateer RAS was media correspondent!

May

Celebrating 150,000 pageviews with an appearance on BBC Local Radio!

The publishing of "Pies: A Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know" by TJP.

June

Our regularly updated World Cup Pie Blog - which had well over 1,000 views!

Celebrating 150 years of pie making with Robinson's Bakery in Manchester.

July

Our first ever Pie Book Review - 92 pies by Tom Dickinson.

Our confirmation that we did not graffiti "The Pies" on a motorway bridge on the M6!

August

The world's first ever Piecnic took place - and we created a video to celebrate 500 pie posts on Pierate!

Our most popular "reci-pie" article to date featured pies from Great British Bake Off stars Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood going head-to-head in a pie-off!

September

We celebrated 200,000 page views with new Honourary Pierateers - Ashleigh and Olivia!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever TV appearance came on the Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice programme, featuring Michel Roux Jnr rating the Pierateer's Crocodile Pie!

The launch on 26th September of the first of a weekly pie news update - Pieday Friday!

October

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Featuring on the BBC Sport Website in a video on the "Pies of Football" for the Price of Football Study 2014, including travelling up to Morecambe FC to rate their latest Pork and Irn Bru pie!

Travelling up to Wigan to meet fellow pie fanatic and "Life of Pies" book author Martin!

November

Celebrating our 5th Birthday on 12th November – a day now known as “International Pierate Day”

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our first ever Birthday Pie-rty to celebrate Pierate being 5 years old!

December

A rather unique and Christmassy "Partridge in a Pear Pie" review - once again from Nice Pie!

And who can forget to mention:

We can’t take for granted getting over 1,500 followers on twitter! Thanks so much for following and tweeting @pierateers


We certainly won’t forget the record-breaking 224 posts made this year in a hurry, making it the most productive year yet! Here’s to many more pies and reviews in 2015!

Hap-pie New Year!!!


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 "2014 Pierate Pie-lights!"

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Charlie Bigham pies - Will I bigham up?

Charlie Bigham chicken and ham pie review

I have had my eyes on these pies for a while now. Charlie Bigham's pies, available in Waitrose, have always looked very appealing, but until now I had been put off buying them. The first reason was the fairly hefty £7 price tag (although that is for 2 pies), and the other is that I had always assumed - by virtue of their ramekin dishes - they would just be a top-crust pie (and hence not a proper pie).

But finally the time has come for me to give one a try. I bought a pack and took them home. As my friend remarked when I opened the box, the pies (which come wrapped in a bit of attractive paper) look "amazing" and "super-deluxe". As I feared, though, these are indeed just top crust pies (TOP CRUST ALERT)! 

However, the presentation is excellent, and the pie does look very homely and inviting with its criss-crossed floured pastry draped over the pie dish. I dash it with some milk and put it in the oven.

charlie bigham pie

charlie bigham pie

Oh yeah! That's what I'm talking about! The light puff pastry has risen well, creating beautiful golden brown hills gorged with pale pastry canyons. This is beautiful stuff.

charlie bigham pie

It's hard to do a cross-sectional view of a top crust pie (as I can't really cut the dish open), but here's a sneak peek inside anyway.

You can see there are some good chunks of chicken and oodles of tasty ham. The sauce is creamy and delicious - however I think its consistency would be too runny to put in a standard fully-pastry-encased pie. This filling is very tasty, and the pastry is light and puffy. The meat is not chewy and seems high quality, with no gristly or chewy bits. I would have liked a bit more chicken in there.

Overall, the pie tastes nice and would be a sure-fire winner at the table for a dinner-for-two. However it looses marks for not being fully encased in pastry, sauce a bit too runny, and a bit low on chicken. Based on this experience, however, I am tempted to try some of the other pies in the Charlie Bigham's range - so that can only be a good thing.

Charlie Bigham's Chicken and Ham pie
Score: 5.2/7
TJP
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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Marks and Spencer Mince Pies go head to head

Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic and Luxury Mince Pie Reviews


Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies
It seems every supermarket likes getting into the festive pie spirit and Marks and Spencer are no exception. With a fantastic range of mince pies in store, it was hard to decide which pies to pick up, particularly as a lot of the boxes of pies looked very similar to one another. We’d already had our gluten free Pierateer ALE rate the gluten free Marks and Spencer mince pies, so – finding the descriptions on the box of the Marks and Spencer Classic and Luxury mince pies almost identical – Pierateer RAS decided to try and work out what the difference was between the two in a pie-off.

So what were the Marks and Spencer Mince Pies like? And what was the difference? Well, the most noticeable difference was the price. The classic pies cost £1.80 for a box of 6 mince pies or 30ppp, compared to £2.50 for a box of 6 luxury mince pies at 41.6ppp, which makes them some of the more expensive boxes of supermarket mince pies this Christmas time. However at Pierate HQ it’s not all about the price – it’s about whether the pie is worth the price!

Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic Mince Pies
The pies came in good condition, though the classic pie had a rather plain lid compared to the more elaborate design of the luxury pies, which incorporated a snowflake. However the lid of the luxury pies were quite inconsistent, with some lids slightly uneven and sticking to the foil casing, thus breaking the lid off the pie when trying to eat them.

The colour was quite good for mince pies – though there was a significant contrast from the darker, crisper edge pastry that created a reasonable overhang to the lighter, central pastry. The pastry was nice and crisp without being dry, crumbling easily in the mouth.

Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies
Inside both pies there was a reasonably strong capacity of mincemeat, with clear fruity pieces and a nice moist filling. The content wasn’t too chewy, which was good, and was consistently well filled throughout the pie. The filling tasted very similar between the two – very fruity sultanas, currants and raisins.

All in all, both were nice Christmas mince pies which I’d certainly want to eat again, even if they were a little more expensive per pie than most other supermarket pies. With a full 11.6p per pie difference between the two, I’d say there isn’t a noticeable enough difference to warrant paying the extra for the luxury pies, even if they do look a bit nicer. But two more Pierate Recommended mince pies none the less!

Marks and Spencer All Butter Mince Pies – Classic Recipe
Score: 5.56/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 5.8, Chewiness 5.6, Cheapness 4, Content 6, Total: 5.56/7]

Marks and Spencer All Butter Mince Pies – Luxury Recipe
Score: 5.23/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 4.5, Chewiness 5.6, Cheapness 3, Content 6, Total: 5.23/7]

RAS


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 "Marks and Spencer Mince Pies go head to head"