Time for Pie
Not everyone will realise this, but we are currently celebrating 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 treated myself to a pie-making class at the School of Artisan Food near Nottingham. We made pie after pie, including Chicken and Mushroom, Steak and Ale, and Steak and Kidney before moving on to the traditional hand-raised pork pie. No matter that my pie resembled the leaning tower of Pisa, it was a damn fine pie.
Meanwhile, why not have a go at making my Spring Lamb and Barley Pie with Lemon Rosemary and Mint It would be lovely to serve for a weekend lunch or to celebrate Easter. Do give it a try and let me know what you think.
Pastry tips and techniques
Take a look at Christine’s epic book Flour: a comprehensive guide, an in-depth look at 45 flours, both wheat and gluten-free, plus must-try recipes for pies, pastry and pizza.
© Christine McFadden, March 2020