Friday 3 December 2010

Pie-in-a-tin: Will it be canned heat or just canned laughter?

If you cast your mind back to the golden days of 1898. I'm sure we all visited Uruguay that year, and probably passed through a little unassuming town called Fray Bentos. You almost certainly didn't know it at the time, but the very next year Fray Bentos was going to get shot to fame thanks to the production of corned beef there by a company called Anglo. From here, the company of Fray Bentos was developed, diversifying into tinned soups, tinned fruit, and eventually tinned pies. Big business in the UK in the 70s and 80s, Fray Bentos tinned pies have somewhat fallen out of fashion in recent days thanks to the advent of many affordable fresh non-tinned pies on the market. However, they are still stocked by supermarkets; and when they're on offer, a Pierateer can't turn down the opportunity to trial one!

Fray bentos pieI've got my can opener ready. It is a little odd feeling to be using a tin opener to be opening a pie, but let's just roll with it and see what happens. I fully encircle the tin, fold the lid back and...

Fray bentos pieWell initially it certainly doesn't look very appetising, that's for sure. Although I'm surprised that I'm surprised at its appearance, if you understand what I mean. I wasn't sure what sort of condition I was expecting this pie to arrive in - clearly I wasn't expecting it to be cooked and puffy - but both the anaemic, fatty looking colour, and the way the pastry peeled off the surface and stuck to the lid, was a little repulsive in my opinion. But hey, this is what I should have expected, given that the puff pastry was still raw. So I must continue, and follow the instructions on the back of the tin...

Fray bentos piePie in oven...

Fray bentos piePie out of oven. It's risen nicely, and is engaging in some beautiful orange and brown sunset tones. The surface of the pie is mountaineous and ravaged by crevasses. Is this a sign that I left it in the oven for too long? Probably. But oh well. The proof of quality is in the eating of the pie.

Fray bentos pieI wasn't sure of the protocol of eating this tinned pie. I checked the instructions, and it is still unclear as to whether I eat the pie in the tin, or whether I dish it out onto the plate. I opt for the plate option, since this will provide me with a better photo opportunity of the content. And the content is a bit unpleasant actually, if I'm honest. I'm not really sure what's going on beneath that pastry (which is actually very applaudable, especially the gooey "secondary layer" beneath the main puffy bulk). I try some of the filling. The steak has, in my view, a chewy texture consistent with the fact that it's a pie in a tin. Which brings me on to my next point. Why pie in a tin? What is the point? I certainly appreciate that some people do savour the taste, but this pie is no more economical than your average fresh pie, and in my opinion certainly not as nice. In fact, the single tinned pies when they're not on offer are more expensive. Sure, they have a shelf life of infinity (my pie would last until the latter half of 2012) which means they're good for the cupboards...but when might you need such an "emergency pie"? Normal pies last a decent amount of time in the fridge anyway, so it's easy to have one to hand that way. I'm sure you can think of many fanciful situations when a non-refrigeratable pie would be necessary, but in our day to day lives, I will just be sticking for the cold section of my supermarket.

And the rest of this pie review? Well, after I'd finished the gooey secondary layer and picked a bit at the meat, I just wasn't that hungry any more...

Score: 3.8/7

(NOTE: This score includes a boost because of the fact that Fray Bentos allows the consumer to always have a pie to hand when climbing a mountain [although where's the oven?] or during a nuclear fallout).


  1. Why can't they scrap the metal on the top of the tin instead to put tin foil on the top of the pie and a plastic ontop to make it easier to open bently pie maker

  2. I think the idea of a tinned pie like this is that it will last several years unopened!

  3. Why don'the you put a ring top like tinned soup. Much easier to open.


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