It’s National Pie Week and so we thought we would indulge you over one of the great British cuisine based delicacies that this humble island produces. Yes, if you live anywhere near Wigan or St Helens, this week must feel like Christmas and if you live anywhere else in the country, you will be indulging in either traditional fayre or something wildly exotic.

It was only late last year that scientists launched a pie from Wigan into space to see what effect it would have on the molecular structure of the product after a few hours in quasi-orbit. Then there was pie-gate earlier this year where Sutton goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw caused controversy for eating a shortcrust delight whilst losing to Arsenal in this year’s FA Cup 4th round.

Pie, it seems, is intrinsic to swathes of the British culture. And that’s not a bad thing.

From football grounds, to chip shops, gastro pubs to michelin star restaurants, it seems we are searching for the perfect chunk of pie, with the perfect filling and the perfect story to go with it; I mean, who doesn’t love pie?

pie gate

From petitions determining what a pie is, to even real life sweeny todd’s, pies have been at the heart of British food culture and this week sees us all go a little pie-eyed, sorry, at a celebration of the inventive cuisine.

But what makes a great pie and how can you create a fantastic dish in your kitchen to celebrate one of the best culinary weeks this nation can proudly call it’s own?

The pastry
When it comes to pie, selecting the right type of pastry is essential. Note, if you are making a casserole and then adding a puff pastry lid, that is not a pie.

Puff pastry is a perfect for pastries, sausage rolls, sweet or savoury pies, turnovers and palmiers. What this means is, if you have fillings which has a more hearty flavour to it, like Steak and Ale or Chicken Leek & Bacon then you may want to opt for this over a denser, richer pastry.

“Shortcrust has a slightly biscuity, crumbly texture that is resistant to soaking up fluids so is perfect for quiches, tarts, samosas and other savoury delights with wet fillings or those that are not being served immediately.” As according to NowtoLove.com. Cold pies that use a corned beef filling or even game are perfect here.

And finally there is filo in the holy trinity of pastry for pies. It is sweeter, wafer thin and has a nice crunch to it. This is perfect for pies with spinach where it will absorb a lot of liquid.

The essential is choosing the right pastry for the right filling. In the words of Mary Berry, let’s avoid “soggy bottoms.” Our only advice is, with most of these pastry’s, if you’re making them from scratch, really take your time over them and a mixture of egg and milk wash before cooking is always a preferred way to get a sheen.

The filling
The filling for a pie is surely the soul, the essence of what makes it great, no? There are hundreds, if not thousands of varieties that we can experiment with all year long.

So what makes a great filling? Ingredients and flavour combinations.

As discussed, some of the favourites in this nation include;

  • Chicken & Bacon
  • Beef & Ale
  • Salmon & Spinach
  • Pork & Apple
  • Chicken & Chorizo

There are so many to choose from. So once you have the combination down, what you then need to do is source great quality ingredients. Yes, your supermarket can host some of the things that you may not be able to find over the counter at your local butcher or green grocer, but shopping local or at specialist farm shops also help the local economy which is never a bad thing.

Once again, taking your time over the selection of ingredients, the cooking procedure, ensuring that everything is at the right temperature and so forth, make for a great pie, no matter the occasion.

How you cook it
Pies used to be cooked in wood burning ovens, and still are, but with modern day appliances in homes, you want to be sure that you are using the correct cooking programme for baking.

neff banner

The term fan assisted oven is found on packages of many of our favourite pre-made dishes, as well as when you bake and cook in your own home and you follow recipes to the dotted i. NEFF, with whom we are a master partner have specific instructions about cooking pie baked dishes and even have pie settings on some of their ovens, which we have to say, is rather excellent!

A fan assisted oven is an oven with heating elements in the oven (top and/or bottom) and a fan at the back whilst a convection oven is any oven that has a fan in it. It’s as simple as that.

What recipes should you try?
There are lots of recipes that are going around, but we think we’ll stick to these three. The first is from Felicity Cloake on the perfect steak and ale pie; it really is stunning. Our second choice is this venison pie from Good Housekeeping; game is still in season and this is a great dish to try in this week of celebrating the pie! Finally, we turn to Nigella for this chicken, mushroom and bacon pie; it looks stunning.

What’s your favourite pie dish? What will you be cooking this pie week? Interested in food and live demonstrations why not check out our event this March 23rd. There are limited spaces so book quick!

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