Great British Pies
Not everyone will realise this, but we have just emerged from British Pie Week – one of those so-called national awareness events created by PR companies and sponsored by food companies. It seems we are a nation of pie eaters and pies are top of the menu.
As a waistline watcher, pies seldom make it to the top of my personal menu. That said, I do love a good pie. I also have to confess to a particular weakness for pork pies. Those miniature Melton Mowbray ones seem to leap off the supermarket shelves and before I know it I have scoffed the lot before I get to the cash desk – pie wrapping shamefacedly in hand.
Pondering why I find these pies so irresistible, I have come to the conclusion that it is the combination of greasy but crisp hot-water pastry, the peppery pork filling and the glistening jelly. I also like the look of a Melton Mowbray pie.
The subtle bulge of the sides is a thing of beauty, as is the immaculately flat thick base.
I have always been intrigued by gala pie – the long loaf-shaped pork pie with a seemingly endless hard-boiled egg in the middle. It was served at family get-togethers when I was a child growing up in the pie heartland of the Midlands.
I used to ask grown-ups how each slice got a perfect piece of egg in it, but nobody seemed to know.
So deep is my fascination with pork pies I recently treated myself to a British pie-making class at the School of Artisan Food near Nottingham. Here, expert butcher Rich Summers instructed us in the fine art of pie-making. We made pie after pie, including Chicken and Mushroom, Steak and Ale and Steak and Kidney (try my recipe) before moving on to the traditional hand-raised pork pie. No matter that my pork pie resembled the leaning tower of Pisa, it was a damn fine pie.
Rich's command of his subject was impressive – no fancy fillings, just plain down-to-earth knowledge of meat and butchery, and deft skills with pastry.
He even explained the secret of the infinite egg in a gala pie. But that's
© Christine McFadden, March 2014