Saturday, 30 May 2015

North Stars

Great North Pie Co - Pie Reviews

If you saw the results from the recent British Pie Awards 2015 you will have noticed the current darlings of the pie world are the Great North Pie Company. Supreme Champions for their Chicken, Mushroom and Mustard pie, as well as scooping the Small Producer Award. But what are their pies actually like? Pierateer RAS has previously enjoyed their meat pie, although it didn’t challenge at the top of our pie rankings. The Great North Pie Company have an ever changing seasonal selection of pies, so what is the current crop like?


A trip to Selfridges Food Hall provided a surprising discovery. We have previously enjoyed a number of Tom’s Pies from Selfridges but it seems like Tom’s range has been replaces with a number of pies from the Great North Pie Co. which a sign proclaims are ‘exclusive’ to Selfridges. I was less than happy about the price, at £4.99 each, these are more expensive than the Tom's pies. But, this seemed like a bit too much of a good opportunity to miss, so after a trip to the bank to take out a second mortgage I bought 3 pies. The hilariously named Goosnargh Chicken, Mushroom & Cream, a Steak & Stout and a Ham and Black Pudding. Unless I am very much mistaken the Goosnargh is none other than the British Pie Awards winner itself (or at least very similar) that I have just happened to stumble across! What are the chances?! (Actually they are probably quite high as I am constantly 'window shopping' for promising pies, that's the life of a Pierateer.) Apparently Goosnargh is just the name of the Northern village where the chicken come from and is recommended by top chefs, so it shows that I am not sophisticated because I thought it was a funny name!


But did they live up to the expectations? The Great Northern Pie Company claim to make ‘artisan’ pies and I can certainly see what they mean. These pies have unique flavours and are quite unlike anything I have come across before. I am really glad they are trying something different and the flavours were very interesting.

These pies were well presented without being over the top. Despite having shoved them on the front of a Boris Bike on a bumpy journey they held together well. I do like a sturdy pie as it is really what I look for in the ultimate pie. Even when cooked, these are pies that you would pick up and eat with your hands (although that might not quite be the market they are going for!). In every case, the pie was very filling and satisfying, they were above average size for individual pies. The pastry was a real winner here, with a lovely buttery flavour. It was crumbly and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

All the fillings were full of flavour and these were anything but your run of the mill bland pies! Whilst I liked them all, I am sorry to say that none of the flavours worked really well for me personally. I probably just have an unsophisticated pallet, but if they sound like your kind of thing then effectively consider that they have a higher score. If you are a pie fan I would certainly recommend trying one of these pies as you won’t get the same experience anywhere else. See below for the score breakdown.


Goosnargh Chicken, Mushroom & Cream (Great North Pie Co)
5.73/7

Condition - 6.0 out of 7 - Adorned with a sprinkling of crumb and seeds to the lid, I found all these pies looked really appealing.
Colour - 6.6 out of 7 - Look at the colours on the lid, a glorious, mottled golden-brown. The sides weren't as brown but not too pale like some we come across
Cheapness - 3.5 out of 7 - £4.99, you cannot be serious!? For any pie this just seems like too much, it is not something I would fork out very often for. Unless you are trying to impress someone or you really like the sound of the flavours, for most people this would be a very occasional purchase, if they can afford it at all. But then, who shops in Selfridges Food Hall?! That said the pies were quite big and full of content so at least you feel you do get something for your money. If you can get this pie cheaper elsewhere then effectively consider the score higher, but like I said, Selfridges did have a sign saying 'exclusive'.
Capacity - 6.5 out of 7 - Fabulously full, these pies were packed with meaty content. They are also quite big for individual pies.
Chewiness - 6.0 out of 7 - Fibrous chicken pieces provided something to get the teeth into. The mushroom provided a variety in texture to the chicken. A nice texture to the crumbly pastry.
Content - 5.5 out of 7 - The first thing that struck me was how yellow the sauce was which doesn't quite come across in the photos. This must have been mustard or turmeric. There was plenty of flavoursome chicken and also quite a lot of mushroom. The sauce was satisfyingly thick and creamy. It had flavours which I couldn't quite place. It didn't have a 'hot' spicy taste as I might have expected from mustard. The main flavour I noticed was an aniseed or fennel type flavour. This seemed quite an odd flavour and, although it was nice to have something different, I would have preferred less of this flavour as I found it a bit overpowering.
Consistency - 6.0 out of 7 - The sauce was extremely thick which meant this pie could be eaten with the hands if needed. The pastry and filling came together in harmony to produce a pie which worked really well.




Steak & Stout (Great North Pie Co)
4.99/7

Condition - 5.9 out of 7 - Slightly less adorned than the chicken pie.
Colour - 6.5 out of 7
Cheapness - 3.5 out of 7 - This pie was again full of content to make up for the high price.
Capacity - 6.5 out of 7 - Again, it was well filled.
Chewiness - 4.5 out of 7 - Some nice pieces of steak to chew on but in this case I felt some of them were slightly too chewy for a premium pie like this.
Content - 4.0 out of 7 - A lot of steak in this pie which had a nice flavour. It was again in a very thick, gloopy sauce and again it had flavours unlike any other pie I have had. It had a sour, roasted taste from the stout but there was also a definite sweetness to the sauce and it was quite tangy. It made me think it might have marmite in it, or perhaps bovril as I know they have used this for some of their other pies. I thought it also looked a bit like marmite.
Consistency - 4.0 out of 7 - There was a lot going on with the flavours of this pie and for me it didn't quite work as a package. That said, it wasn't unpleasant and a lot of the individual elements were good, they just didn't come together well (for me).



Ham & Black Pudding (Great North Pie Co)
5.66/7

Condition - 6.0 out of 7
Colour - 6.6 out of 7
Cheapness - 3.5 out of 7 - This pie was again full of content to make up for the high price.
Capacity - 6.5 out of 7 - Again, it was well filled.
Chewiness - 5.9 out of 7 - The soft strings of meat were chewy but only enough that there was something to get your teeth into.
Content - 5.6 out of 7 - Packed with meat, there wasn't really much liquid sauce to this particular pie, however, it was still wonderfully moist. The black pudding worked really well in the pie making it meaty and flavoursome. There was a small amount of veg too. One mouthful might be different to the next. However, there was again a strong aniseed or fennel flavour which I felt was too much for me.
Consistency - 5.5 out of 7 - Meaty and interesting, this is a pie I would have again (as long as I didn't need to pay for it).


SJL

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