This is an interesting one, a perk of the job, well, the hobby as it stands. A Man City fan I know, Johnny Stafford got in touch to tell me about his mate who makes his own pies and sell them at work. And guess what? He made me one! It would be a travesty not to review it, wouldn’t it?
In return for the pie, I sent Steve a present money can’t buy, a priceless* copy of my book, Life of Pies.
Before Christmas, I finally managed to nip out to Eccles to transfer it from Johnny’s freezer to mine, and on the 1st day of 2020, I eventually removed it from my freezer and into the oven.
As you can see from the photo, it is a steak and veg pie and it is nearly six inches in diameter and as heavy as a house brick. It’s probably a good pie to share, but a) my wife and kids don’t really eat steak pies and b) I don’t share pies.
Finishing it could present a challenge, especially seeing as I have been nibbling at the end of my kids’ sausage rolls. (They must graduate to pies one day, they are Wiganers after all.)
It is a circular pie with flat sides and once I take it out of the oven, it slips perfectly out of the foil tray. The pastry is robust on three sides and a little soft underneath, but it holds it’s shape perfectly throughout.
Upon cutting it, I am delighted to find that it is packed to the rafters, with prime steak cuts, peas, tender carrots and onions giving off a wonderful home baked aroma. It is piping hot and the veg perfectly complements the sweet gravy.
The pastry is sublimely soft and tender and the small onions are a lovely touch, it really is a full meal in a pastry casing.
Prior to eating this pie, I think sub-consciously I decided I wasn’t going to be mean about it, because after all, somebody has especially baked me a pie and given it to me for free. Yet, in truth, there is very little to criticise, it is one of the best pies I have had in a long time.
Maybe if I was being critical, I would say that the top crust pastry went a little bit too dark but that may all be down to my own baking (reheating!) skills.
I understand Steve bakes them for work colleagues, but the best compliment I can pay is that he should be doing this for a living as it is far better than many commercially and professionally produced pies I have had over the years.
If you are lucky enough to work with Steve, then there is no doubt which day of the week your favourite tea time, this is a truly great pie.
Steve’s Steak and Veg Pie (NB not commercially available)
Presentation 9 great chunky look and feel to it and fantastic aroma
Place 9 hey it was made for me!
Pastry 8 held together well, I used a fork to eat it to capture all the veg and filling which spilled out
Filling 10 absolutely heaving with all of the good stuff, yet still retains it’s shape
Taste 9 put simply, it is like a casserole in a pie casing
Portion 9 a huge pie, which in all probability serves two people, or one fat lad from Wigan. The question is, would it meet the under 600g criteria to enter in the British Pie Awards?
Price (Value) 10 because it was free. If I was paying for it, I’d give it a 9 if it was £3 or an eight if it was a fiver.
Total 64/70 OK it is probably the highest I have ever scored a pie. In truth though , the Price, Place and Presentation would probably get knocked down a couple of marks each if I was purchasing it myself but even if it came in at 60, it would still come within one of the top 10 or 20 pies I have had in the last few years. Congratulations Steve, you are a brilliant pie maker! (and no I’m not just saying that!)
*It’s not priceless, the price is £4.99 plus p&p and you can get it here: http://www.lifeofpies.co.uk/buy/