Sunday 29 September 2013

Unmis-steak-ably steak and stilton pie from Higgidy

Higgidy British Beef, Stilton and Ale pie review

Ah, Higgidy. We had a Higgidy celebration back in July, in aid of our 200th pie review. Back then we tried the Slow Cooked Steak & Red Wine pie, the Sweet Potato, Feta Cheese and Pumpkin Seed pie, and the Chicken Pot Pie with Ham and Leek. Today I'll be reviewing the British Beef, Stilton and Ale pie from the Shoreham-by-Sea company.

Higgidy British Beef, Stilton and Ale
Higgidy Beef, Stilton and Ale Pie
I had always thought of Higgidy as being a primarily vegetarian company, but here they are delving deep into the domain of hardy meat fans. Beef, blue cheese and ale is a pretty butch combination. I'm desperate to know - can the quirky, cute, family-business Higgidy pull it off?

So the pastry is short crust, but doesn't totally encase the whole filling (much like other pie offerings from Higgidy). Instead, the pastry lid is replaced with potato mash. That's not good! Why not opt for a pastry lid?

This is a very British affair - not only is it made by a British company, but the beef is British, the stilton is British, and I imagine the ale is probably British. I like that. 
higgidy pie
The pie has no pastry lid
The lack of pastry lid to this pie is my immediate concern. We strongly favour pies that have a filling totally and wholly encased in pastry (have we ever mentioned that before...?), so the omission of a lid here is guaranteed to lower the final score. This also detracts from the colour of the pie, as I often assess the pastry lid for a rich pine colour. Here, despite cooking the pie for the allotted time at the allotted temperature, I appear to have burnt the potato topping slightly. However, the condition of the pie is good.

higgidy pie
The inside of the pie
 Moving on to content now - and this is where this Higgidy offering starts losing points rapidly. As I cut the pie open, I noticed something very strange about the filling. Therefore I separated out all the pastry and mash from the steak, ale and stilton filling, and was very disappointed with what I found. Have a look at this close up of the filling:
higgidy pie
This was all the filling
This photograph - apart from a few bits of gravy still stuck to the pastry which I couldn't scrape off - is the entire filling of this pie. I haven't included the potato mash here, because that is technically the lid. As you can see (or perhaps not quite so clearly), the chunks of beef are few and far between. Most of what you see here is gravy with some fibres of beef swimming around in it - there are a couple of small chunks of beef at the top of the photograph. This was extremely disappointing and not what I would expect from a premium beef pie. If you're expecting a big meat feast with this pie, then think again. For those who like their meat pies with meat in, this might not be for you. I could have probably eaten the entire filling here in one large spoonful. Is this a sign that Higgidy isn't ready yet to compete with the big carnivorous players?

That fact aside, the filling was actually delicious. There was definitely a fairly strong taste of stilton. I know for some people this will be a big negative, but for use fans of blue cheese, this is definitely a 'plus' point. Good on you Higgidy! Be brave with the stilton taste! Big flavours. Just need to be bigger on the chunks of meat.

Overall, at about £3.50, this was priced at the premium end of the supermarket pie spectrum - but the quality is clear. The meat (when it was there) was not chewy, and the pastry was great quality. It loses points for no pastry lid, a lack of filling and a lack of beef in the filling, and also it is slightly expensive.

Higgidy British Beef, Stilton and Ale pie
Score: 5.17/7

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