Monday 30 September 2013

Pukka Pies save time with microwaveable pie - but at what cost?

Pukka Pies Microwaveable Pie Reviews: Chicken Balti Pie and Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie

The Earth spins on its axis. The sun rises. The moon falls. The sun falls. The moon rises. We're machines of perpetual motion, working hard all day, on and on and on to make money. Pounds. Dollars. Yen. Euros. Rupees. Stock market news wraps itself round shimmering buildings dressed in glass. Suited men and women hurry up escalators, down escalators, up flights of stairs, down flights of stairs. We rush to get to work. We rush to get out of work. We rush to make money, then we rush to spend it.

But the one currency we don't make enough of, is time. We fail to see money for what it really is, what it is really for - as a tool for trade. Money is not our lifeblood. It is not our soul. We cannot swallow it for health. We can't inject it for love. We can't breathe it for passion, or creativity, or contentment. 

Time, on the other hand, is the strongest currency of them all. Time can give us health - after all, it is often the greatest healer. We need time to fall in love. Over time, our passion can grow and our creativity can develop. And with time on our hands, like the Buddha reaching enlightenment, we can enter nirvana.

Now I'm not saying that Pukka Pies' new microwaveable 3 and half minute chicken balti pie will give you enough time to reach a complete stillness of mind atop a mountain, but you'll have a bit more time on your hands to watch Breaking Bad or play GTA V at least.

Pukka Pies' 3 1/2 minute pie
Pukka Pies' 3 1/2 minute pie
With a normal pie, the packaging often states that the pie can be microwaved but for the best results the pie should be oven cooked. This is not the case with this pie - these rules are reversed. The packaging says that while similar results can be achieved through oven cooking, microwaving this pie will save time. The pie pastry is specially designed to withstand the 'chewiness' which a microwave often transposes onto pastry during radiation cookery. 

I must point out at this moment that this isn't the first microwaveable Pukka Pie we've tried at Pierate. I ate the chicken pie version of this pie back in 2011, and I was quite a fan of the convenience back then, although I questioned the utility of a pie that cooked so quickly relative to the chips that you're inevitably going to eat this with. Now, consistency is one of the Seven Cs that we deliberate over when rating pies out of 7 here at Pierate. So let's see whether Pukka Pies have been consistent with their quality across their brands and throughout the years.

One quick zap at 4 minutes 10 seconds in a 700W microwave, and this chicken balti is apparently ready to eat!
Pukka Pies' 3 1/2 minute pie
Chicken Balti cross-section
First thing that strikes me is, in my opinion, how dry this pie is. I need to wash each mouthful down with water. The pastry is dry (and deliberately so, I imagine, so that it doesn't go chewy and soggy in the microwave). The lack of gravylicious gravy makes the meat dry, and I find the bottom of the pie has a tinge of burn to it so that the pastry is a bit crispy and...dry. The chicken is actually fine otherwise - not too chewy - but I feel that there's significant compromises being made here so that the pie is microwaveable. I'm really not convinced that a microwaveable pie is what the people want, and certainly not if this is the end result. The balti tasted alright, I suppose. But there wasn't any richness to it, or any smoothness. I wanted to melt away with this pie, into exotic far-away lands. Instead, I had to keep sipping at my glass of water while desperately trying to find some gravy to dip my chips in.

Incidentally, I also found this Pukka Pies 3 and half minute microwaveable Potato, Cheese and Onion pie, also in the frozen section of the supermarket.

Pukka Pies Potato, Cheese and Onion microwaveable pie
The problem with this pie turned out to be quite the opposite to the chicken balti pie reviewed above. The end result of the microwaving process was quite a soggy pie. Examining the base of this specimen, however, it seems that I've managed to burn it. It seems quite odd to me how the crispiness of the pie differs throughout its various sections.

The overall taste of the pie was, in my opinion, quite strong in it's cheese and oniony-ness, to which my personal palate isn't suited. Perhaps you need to give this pie a go if you are a fan of cheese and onion, but since in my household the cheese and onion crisps are the last to go from the multipack, I'm not convinced that fans of cheese and onion do actually exist.

These microwaveable pies are certainly convenient, but I am personally finding it difficult to nail the cooking process. I have had a pie that's too dry, one that was a bit soggy, and one that was really quite soggy. Am I doing something wrong? Or should we all just stick to oven cooking pies in the future?

Pukka Pies Microwaveable Chicken Balti Pie
Score: 3.2/7

Pukka Pies Microwaveable Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie
Score 3.1/7

See where these pies ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour.

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