Professional Pies

Pie 127: The Scotstoun Steak “Surprise” Pie

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Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if my pursuit of pastry goes a little too far. Three years ago I found myself sitting on a sofa talking to a former Miss Scotland and the artist formerly known as DJ Romeo about how I was darting about the country eating pies and reviewing them. Two things struck me immediately when I re-watched that mental few minutes. One, I had more hair. Two, the question about whether or not I had eaten all the pies was fairer than I was willing to admit at that time. It had been the culmination of a week where I’d also featured on websites and radio stations and afterwards I had found myself sitting in my car thinking, sometimes, just sometimes, my life is a little bit strange.

I found myself questioning the sanity of my pie pursuit once again last week as I looked out on the arctic tundra masquerading as the pitch at Scotstoun Stadium. I had left on the Sunday morning via bus and then train(s) more in hope than anticipation that the game would be on, regularly checking social media channels for the inevitable. I was therefore amazed that I had got to the point where I had settled down with a pie and a pint in my hand ready for some hard hitting rugby/ice hockey action. Alas though, that inevitable did come, as no sooner had I taken my last bite the stadium tannoy declared the game off. You would think I would be annoyed but I wasn’t, it had got me out the house, given me a story to tell, and of course, most importantly, gave me a new pie review. The fact that this is the conclusion reached tells us all that when it comes to pie, you can never go too far.

So with that in mind and without, much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Scotstoun Stadium, Womens Rugby International Scotland A-A Spain

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Price: Four smackeroonis (£4 for the unintiated)! Oooft, that is indeed a pricey pastry.

Presentation: This was a large pastry in a tin foil case with an equally ample napkin. It’s worth noting here taking a picture of a pie under the cover of a stand against a bright white snowy background is blinking difficult!

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Meatiness: I dubbed this a Steak Surprise Pie as when making my purchase I had simply asked for steak but as I munched my way through it the texture suggested something else was lurking within. My first thought was mushroom or potato as the texture was soft and forgiving on the bite but the taste just didn’t match up. I then wondered if I’d happened across some really soft pieces of fat but it’s taste was too different from the generous steaky chunks surrounding them. I had inspected the filling thoroughly but to be honest, it wasn’t until somebody on Twitter asked if I had gone for the “Steak & Sausage” pie did everything fall into place. Now does that mean that the sausage wasn’t good? Not at all, in fact it added an extra meaty layer that had me nodding my head in pleasure on more than one occasion. The gravy was also of the right consistency to provide the necessary ooze without risk of spillage. This pie was £4 but I was starting to understand why.

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Pastry: The pastry was where I think there was some space for improvement. Not in the nature of the bake which was solid. Golden and crisp without any hint of this sticking to the tin foil case but for the amount of pastry on the crimp. One of the great pleasures of eating a pie is that glorious first bite, where pastry and meat come together in a hopefully glorious unison of savouriness. On this pie, my first bite was all pastry and I had to pick some of it off before getting to the good stuff. It’s a minor complaint on a pretty tasty pie but it’s one worth mentioning.

Brown Sauce: Luxury Pie here so no brown sauce, and it was certainly not needed.

Overall: Yes it was £4 but it was bloody tasty. A bit of better advertising on what was in it would have been nice and bringing in the crimp a few millimetres would have enhanced that all important first bite experience but that’s a minor complaint on a very tasty pastry.

Gravy Factor: Luxury Gravy. Expensive but sometimes you have to treat yourself.

I think that was my first rugby pie which is a bit of a surprise as I’m known to land at a rugby ground fairly often. Next up will be a return to the Scottish Junior football scene with Rossvale, who are sponsored by one of Scotland’s biggest bakers, McGhee’s, so no pressure lads.

But until then, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

 

 

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Pie 126: The Queens Park “Cheese & Onion” Pie

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Welcome back to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries where we’re always on the hunt for some meaty thrills whilst holding back on the spills because a spilled pie leads to a sad guy.

Now unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks we have seen the dawning of a new year and with it the thoughts of new hopes and expectations that it will bring. I’m not one for the phrase “New Year, New Me” philosophy that blights social media for those first few days of January but I do see it as an opportunity to set some goals and try new things.

It’s also the time of year where people declare their body a temple and health boards and charities across the country champion well-meaning campaigns such as “Dry January” and the awfully named “Veganuary”. Now this may perhaps come as a surprise to some but I am quite happy to eat a meal without meat, in fact when you consume the volume of Meat Filled Pastries that I do it is somewhat of a treat. However with that being said I cannot get on board with replacements such as “Facon” and “Tofurky”. I’ve got in to many a debate about this with non-meat eating friends before but for me if you don’t want to eat meat why are you then replacing it with things that look and (supposedly) taste like the things they don’t have any interest in eating? It’s an endless riddle to me. Most vegetarians are sound and rational people. Most vegans however, are in my experience (bar the odd exception), raving lunatics who must burn all of the 150 calories they consume a day telling the world that if you eat meat you deserve to burn in the depths of hell for having the audacity to like the occasional chicken nugget. It’s not my fault you’ve chosen a life of cauliflower “steaks”. I accept that as your life decision so don’t come preaching, and I mean preaching, to me because I don’t agree. All of which, kind of ironically, brings us to today’s pie review; The Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie, a veggie (but not vegan) friendly option at the much debated home of Scottish football Hampden Park.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Hampden Park, Queen’s Park 2-2 Albion Rovers, Scottish League One

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Price: A whooping £2.70. For a pie with zero meat in it. Now I’m making an assumption here but I’m guessing that pie prices for Queen’s Park games are dictated by someone other than the club as history has shown that a pie at a Scotland game will cost you exactly the same for a (supposedly) much higher level of football. I’m not even going to begin to claim to the understand the economics behind Queen’s Park playing at Hampden, and for what it’s worth I think they should continue to do so, but £2.70 for a pie definitely needs looking at when compared with their League One peers.

Presentation: The tin foil case of potential doom accompanied by a large white napkin for mopping up at this point the unknown treasures within.

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Meatiness Cheesy-Onionyness: Sigh. This was fairly rubbish. Always a disappointment in the pie game. Inside this pie was a mushy yellow and white paste that I presume was meant to be rich and cheesy with a strong onion linger in the background oozing as you pull away each bite and where you try to stop a small string of cheese getting stuck in your beard. Positively dreamy.

What actually happened was the appearance of a bland blob that tasted more of uncooked roux and a hint of cheese tainted with a pepper kick so offensively strong that the acrid burn stabbing at the back of my throat resulted me going and having to get a second beverage. On review fairly rubbish seems far too genteel. This was looking to be a bit of a disaster and then there was the pastry…

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Pastry: I have often talked about the pit falls of the tin foil case. A Sophie’s Choice of a decision for butchers and bakers between the appearance of uniformity and the risk of the pie sticking to the bottom of the case. It’s a risk that often backfires and in this instance the result was no different as half my pie stayed glued to the bottom as I lifted it to take my first bite. The pastry on the top edges was golden and crisp but at the base was as near to raw as I think I’ve ever had at a football game. So raw infact, that I could actually leave a thumbprint in the bottom with the mixture of filling and pastry creating a texture that I’m sure could be used as a Play-doh substitute at a nursery. I can’t think of the last time I thought, “I might not even finish this” but it was really that poor. I am however a trooper, and so I powered through like any good pie muncher should.

Brown Sauce: Regular readers will know that a luxury pie (i.e. a non-Scotch Pie) does not get dotted with some of the brown stuff but given how consumption had gone to this point I thought I’d grab a sachet to try and save it. Sadly, even this most wondrous of condiments couldn’t prevent me from experiencing culinary doom.

Overall: This was not very good. The filling was bland but yet somehow offensive and the pastry was near raw and stuck to the case. If you go to a Queen’s Park game I’d avoid this and stick to your traditional Scotch or Steak. If you’re feeling fancy wire into a Chicken Curry but if you’re a vegetarian I’d just settle for a Mars Bar.

Gravy Factor: Literally better off eating a spoonful of unwatered Bisto.

Well that was disappointing. It’s often said it’s easier to criticise than praise but for me the purpose of this site is to champion the best pies around the grounds and beyond and so when I’m met with something bad it’s a chore to break it down. That said, if I’m not honest and go about proclaiming every pie as the greatest I’ve ever had then I lose all credapie-ility.

Next up is a first review from Clydebank, something I couldn’t quite believe when checking the archives before the game so hopeful we see a return to pie glory. But until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

Pie 119: The Falkirk Macaroni Pie

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The “see you laters” have been said in my last post so I’m not going to labour the point. Instead, like all good encores this will be brief nod to the fans designed to keep those of you on who are interested on tenterhooks with the insinuation that in years to come an overpriced reunion tour will occur where a bedraggled version of me will rate pies through a straw as people stare and wonder, “Has he been on the smack?”

Anyway, before this tangent writes me off as dead in a pool of my own vomit let’s get on with the show.

Let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: The Falkirk Stadium, Scotland Women 0-4 Iceland Women, UEFA Women’s European Championship Qualifying Group 1

Price: £1.90. Not breaking through the two pound barrier makes this a cheaper luxury option although overall this is still at the top end of the matchday pie market.

Presentation: As oft found towards the upper echelons of the Scottish game this pie came in a silver foil case accompanied with a pick as you need selection of napkins from a dispenser beside the kiosk. I went for two. Two seemed right but not excessive.

THE PIE

The Final Bite...
The Final Bite…

CheesyPastainess – As a macaroni pie filling this was a very good effort. The tightly curled tubes of macaroni were soft to the bite without turning into a mushy pulp adding the right amount of texture to this filling. The cheese was also a lovely blend, with the right balance of savoury and salty. The texture here too was spot on, no gelatinous globules of tasteless cheese, instead long strings of fromage based goodness graced my presence with a crispy brown later on top Lovely stuff.

Pastry: I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Macaroni Pie pastry is pale and whilst the walls of this particular offering were I was intrigued to find that the top was a little browner and as such a little crisper. There was some issues towards the bottom of the pie meaning the pastry tore against the tin foil tin and a little bit of filling recovery was required but all in all this was a solid effort.

Brown Sauce: Nostalgia dictates that red sauce is used here. A wee sachet (all sachets are too wee for my liking) of perfectly serviceable tomato condimentation. (Note: pretty sure that’s a made up word).

Overall: A friend of mine swore to me that macaroni pies were the best thing ever, whilst I still disagree with that statement I feel confident in saying that they have more than earned their place on these hallowed pages.

Gravy Factor: Cheesy Gravy. And as we all know cheese, much like bacon, is always good.

So that’s it for now. Over the coming months I’ll be trying to pull 3 years of pie based jiggery pokery into something that people may pay for money for (or at the very least download for free from Amazon). There’s a lot of people to thank along the way but I think I’ll save that for the book.

Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 115: The St. Mirren Macaroni Pie

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I’m not going to lie folks, this is becoming a struggle, my pie based vocabulary is reaching its peak and I’m conscious repetition is almost always on the cards these days. That said I have an obligation to you, the people who have read, supported and shared this mad adventure, to see it through to season end. So let’s go out with a flurry of flour, a sprinkle of mace and a dollop of brown sauce.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Paisley 2021 Stadium (Christ what a name!), St. Mirren 2-2 Hibernian, Scottish Championship

Watching a "Hibbsing It" live in person.
Watching a “Hibsing It” live in person.

Price: I’ve made a booboo here and totally forgot to check the price. I compounded this booboo when the following Friday I was at the same venue for Scotland Women’s victory against Slovenia and forgot to check again! If somebody wants to correct me then I’m all ears but for now I’m going to say around £2.40.

Presentation: Presented in a silver foil tin on a small to medium-sized napkin, standard presentational fayre.

 

THE PIE

Return of the Mac(aroni)
Return of the Mac(aroni)

Meatiness CheesyPastainess – As regular readers will know this section is usually reserved to the meatiness of my pie, however after tenuously linking meat to macaroni on not one but two separate occasions I decided now was the time to bite the bullet and create a new section. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the snazzily titled ‘CheesyPastainess’ section. So how cheesy and pasta like was this pastry. The answer my friends is very. Let’s start with the pasta, soft macaroni tender to the bite and tasting like pasta as opposed to bland tubes of rubber. The cheese sauce was also very good, distinctly cheesy and I’m confident there was a blend used but of what I’m not sure and there was no floury after taste. It was also lovely and stringy whilst still being easy to eat. I’ve had some rotten macaroni pies but this wasn’t one of them.

Pastry: I often find the pastry on a macaroni pie is paler in colour than that you find on a standard scotch offering and this was no different. That’s not to say it wasn’t baked as this pastry was cooked enough to hold together and fall apart nicely all at the same time. It also managed not to stick to the bottom of the tin, a fate that befalls many a pie encased in silver. Overall another solid effort.

Brown Sauce: Nostalgia dictates it’s always red sauce with my macaroni pie. Nothing has made me change that yet.

Overall: A very good effort from the Paisley Pandas. A sauce that was nice and cheesy, with soft pasta and a well-baked pastry case.

Gravy Factor: Cheese meltingly good gravy.

A third offering from Paisley in the books, the next one could have been number four but the menu was somewhat limited for the Women’s international but never fear a new pie is ready to pop. Next up a Steak & Gravy Pie from Perth based junior outfit, Jeanfield Swifts.

However, until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 111: The Clyde ‘Not Pie’ Pie: A Call to Arms

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Happy New Year from Meat Filled Pastries! My apologies for a lack of activity recently, a fixture list that saw a string of home games for Pollok along with weather conditions that obliterated almost every game I had lined up to go and see meant that things have been rather quiet on the pie front so far in 2016 and my first offering of the year has not a drop of pastry in sight.

Before the review though let me share with you the outcome of this year’s 2016 Scotch Pie Awards hosted at the Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld on the 13th January. Once again I was honoured to participate in the judging process to find the best pies and pastries from across our fair land, first judging in the hot savoury category and then taking part in the second round to find the World Scotch Pie Champion who this year is found at The Kandy Bar in Saltcoats. A full list of winners can be found at http://www.scotchpieclub.co.uk/ as well as by following me on Twitter (@MFPTasty). As always I had a blast both on the judging days and attending the awards themselves meeting numerous individuals who make my passion for pie look paltry. I left the ceremeony thinking that there is work to be done to promote pastries at our football grounds and with that in mind I thought I would share with you the 2016 Football Pie Winners, headed by Bruce of Broch’s steak pie offering, available at both Fraserburgh in the Highland League and Fraserburgh United in the North Region Juniors. The full list is below, I’m writing this on the move so apologise it’s only in picture form:

Congratulations!
Congratulations!

Congratulations again to everyone involved. So with that covered off, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie! (Or in this case a burger!)

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Broadwood Stadium, Clyde 0-1 Queens Park, Scottish League Two

Disappointment awaits...
Disappointment awaits…

Now usually I’ll go through a series of ratings before summing up my feelings on the quality of pastry I have been provided with but as this is ‘not a pie’ and has some key elements like pastry missing then the following is more of a long winded monologue (for ‘long winded monologue’ read as rant) on the state of non pie based catering at Scotland’s football grounds. I have no idea where this is going to go so I’ll try not to ramble.

I have always been one to build my Saturdays around a game of football, it’s always felt wrong to sit in the pub and watch Soccer Saturday, however since I have started this little venture a new variable has been added; have I reviewed a pie there before? In the case of Clyde I had not and with the Scotch Pie Club Awards ceremony happening just around the corner the following week I smelled the opportunity for a tie in.

Imagine my disappointment then as I walked into the main stand to find the shutters down and a steward ‘helpfully’ pointing me towards the corner of the stadium in the direction of a burger van. This isn’t the first time this is happened this season and my apologies to Clyde that they are getting the ones that have unleashed my ire but going to a ground and being able to get food, but not a pie, makes me sad and a little bit angry.

Now before people start getting defensive I understand a couple of variables may have been in play in this situation:

  • It was January 2nd. A Scottish Bank Holiday. A day where the whole of Scotland sit in their pants and watch a Wallace and Gromit marathon whilst eating the remaining left over turkey and steak pie.
  • Maybe the butcher wasn’t able to provide pies that day.
  • As it is such a day of rest maybe wee Betty who runs the pie counter didn’t fancy hauling herself down to Cumbernauld to feed a bunch of folk for a fiver.

You know what? If any of the above are true then fair enough, everyone deserves a holiday. Maybe a bit of better planning would help in the future and I can almost, ALMOST accept the contingency of a burger van coming into play if the quality of the fare offered in the place of pastry is of an equivalent or higher standard. Sadly though, in this instance, and in many others, you are presented with a crunchy frozen burger heated up on a griddle and topped with a slice of limp processed cheese and some barely warmed through onions. Don’t believe me look at below:

Not a Pie.
Not a Pie.

Scotland, renowned for nurturing some of the best produce in the world, and this is what you get presented with. Then after discovering the one place where you always expect to ‘take a pie’ doesn’t provide one you are stung with the fact you have to pay more (£3!!) for the privilege to eat something that you wouldn’t look twice at it in the frozen meats section of your local supermarket.

I understand some people don’t like pies, these people are beyond help but understandably football clubs, in a bid to boost revenue streams, often provide alternatives. I don’t particularly like it but I don’t object to it. Burgers, fine. Hot Dogs, OK. Chilli, stovies, curry all easy to prepare in large quantities and warming to the soul on a cold day, I’d rather they weren’t there but they serve a purpose. All of them, all of them bar one: Chips. Sh*t chips. Really sh*t chips. Think about it, have you ever went to a game and walked out the ground thinking, ‘my, those chips were right braw!’. Football chips are an abomination and fall into one of two categories:

  1. Canteen style mass-produced tatties, usually found in larger stadiums. Available already sitting lukewarm under the heater for your tasting pleasure accompanied by sachet’s of sauce that are impossible to open because the smallest amount of grease on your fingers turn the small tear you need to pick at to get into the condiment of your choosing into some kind of water torture.
  2. Chips at smaller grounds where invariably a man stressfully fills the deep fat fryer he’s brought in from home with enough chips to serve one person at a time as an ever increasing queue populates itself with frustrated individuals unable to make their purchases until the 17 minutes required to cook these frozen beauties to just past raw perfection.

Chips! Do one.

I’ll stop here. You know my stance by now, I want pies, have your other things but I want pies. I want to protect the sanctity of a product that is so special to Scotland and ensure that at football matches in 2055 people are still letting the gravy smatter their face and the grease run down their elbow. With that in mind, and to support Scotland’s butchers and bakers I will be compiling the first ever (I think!) Scottish Football Pie Database. Telling you what pies you can get where and who can provide them. I want football clubs across the country to really champion there pies and the people who provide them. This year there were 53 pies entered in the Football Pie category, sounds grand doesn’t it, and yet there is:

  • 42 SPFL clubs
  • 18 Highland League clubs
  • 15 Lowland League clubs
  • 17 East of Scotland League clubs
  • 14 South of Scotland League clubs
  • 165 Junior clubs

Plus a plethora of amateur clubs I haven’t even mentioned, all of a sudden 53 out of 271 doesn’t sound that impressive. For the 2017 Scotch Pie Awards let’s get more involved!

Right that’s me. I’m off my soapbox and next time out I will be back with the first of two proper pie reviews from Linlithgow Rose but until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 107: The Motherwell ‘Macaroni’ Pie

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Yes that’s right folks we are back with pie number two this week and this time it’s one of the meatiest treats around…The Macaroni Pie! Greggs may have shockingly shunned this Scottish staple but for me a good macaroni pie is a tasty treat to behold. There are bad ones though which can leave your mouth drier than a camel covered in talcum powder. So let’s see how this one works out.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, there is no meat in this pie but fear not as back during my review of Pie 57: The Rangers Macaroni Pie I linked cheese and pasta so masterfully to meaty goodness that really this pies eligibility should never be in doubt, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Fir Park, Scotland Women 7-0 Belarus Women, 2017 Womens European Championship Qualifier

Friday Night Football for Free
Friday Night Football for Free

Price: Although entry to a Scottish women’s international is a bargain £5, or free if you are Scotland loving member of the Tartan Army like myself, the games themselves invariably take place in senior Scottish grounds meaning that the price structure to follow is not that of the entry price comparable juniors but that of the Scottish Championship and above. With that in mind a £2 is not bad and a price worth paying considering the endangered nature of these pastries.

Presentation: Presented in the now traditional-for-this-level aluminium foil container with a medium-sized white napkin. With the bonus that a container providing heat on a cold night where no hot drinks were available!

THE PIE

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Meatiness: So let’s move past the obvious first of all. There is no meat in this pie. So what can I look at? Well let’s start with the pasta, perfectly cooked curls of macaroni that were done jsut enough to not be al dente but not so much that they turned to mush. The sauce was really good, often white based sauces can be heavy with flour but this was velvety smooth and smacked you in the mouth with a strong tang of cheesy goodness. Is it better than a meat pie? Food for thought indeed.

Pastry: There is no pastry top on a macaroni pie instead adorning it is a crisp layer of browned cheddar. Delicious! The pastry surround held together extremely well considering the moist filling inside.

Brown Sauce: But that’s red sauce! Yes it is red sauce. As a young pup my macaroni cheese would always be garnished with a generous dollop of ketchup so in a nod to the past it’s ketchup for this pie. A wee sachet, just fine.

Overall: I liked this a lot and it was a massive improvement on the previous version from Ibrox. The pasta soft, the sauce velvety, smooth and intensely cheesy.

Gravy Factor: Fondue. Sometimes it’s good for you and in this case it was!

Next time out we have a luxury pie offering from the same game where I will once again make the case for supporting women’s football.

But until then, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 105: The Rangers ‘Seasonal Chicken & Ham’ Pie

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To really focus on writing a book something you need is time. That, or the ability to generate time by re-organising your life. Unfortunately time is something that is in short supply for me at the moment, well I say unfortunately but I don’t mean it. In the last few months I have been buzzing about visiting new places, working and generally having a good time all the while trying to get my life going where I want it to go. I’m pretty confident I’m going about things in the right way a sure sign of which can be identified in the fact that I have totally lost track of the plot lines and character intricacies found down Hollyoaks way.

Anyway the point is I’m aware the book isn’t coming along at the pace I first predicted but I can happily justify it with everything else that is going on. Which nicely brings me to this years World Pie Championship Judging Day. Once again I have the honour of being asked to judge at the championships and I want to do my bit to make sure the football category is the biggest one yet!

So if you think you have the best pie in town details on how to enter can be found at the following link: http://scottishbakers.org/news/search-has-started-2016-world-scotch-pie-champion. Last year there were 49 pies to judge and I would love to get my chops around some more.

However until then I still have a website to run so without further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Rangers 1-3 St. Johnstone, Scottish League Cup 3rd Round, Ibrox Stadium

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Price: As can be seen from the table below the Seasonal Pie (remembering at this point of my purchasing experience this pastry could have had anything from caviar to a combine harvester inside of it) was a whopping £3.40. The highest priced pie consumed in Scotland to date and a full 20p more expensive than the previous holder of this title The Queens Park Chicken & Tarragon Pie. This pie cost the equivalent of 3 junior scotch pies or two and a bit luxury offerings from the same level. Expensive.

Pies. Still cheaper than a burger.
Pies. Still cheaper than a burger or a CHICKEN WRAP!?.

Presentation: As is often found in senior Scottish football this pie was presented in a large aluminium foil container with the option of a small white napkin from the self-service dispenser on the counter. The kind of size where really you need 2 or 3 to get full mop-up-ability.

THE PIE

Let's be honest, that's not looking very bonny.
Let’s be honest, that’s not looking very bonny.

Meatiness: On the discovery that this was indeed a Chicken & Ham I got quite excited. I enjoy a chicken pie, in fact I’m still partial to a Roll and Chicken Bake often purchased from a well-known high street bakers and ham, of any kind, adds a salty meatiness to pretty much anything that I never fail to enjoy. I took a bite and was instantly disappointed. It was not filled with generously portioned large chunks of ham and chicken wrapped in a luscious creamy gravy. No, instead there were, from what I could count on my tongue, 4 pieces of smallish chicken and a half-dozen or so small cubes of ham lacking in both texture and flavour. Then there was the gravy a claggy mush of water and I assume flour again lacking in flavour.

I don’t often go for the jugular in these reviews as I like to find the good in every pie but this one really annoyed me. It wasn’t even well filled look at the gap there, LOOK AT IT! You could fit in another pie it’s so cavernous! This (for a premium price remember) is simply not good enough.

Pastry: The pastry was short crust on the sides and puff on the top of which I had no real issues. It would have greatly benefited from a proper gravy to help moisten it a bit as during consumption it did become dry but in honesty the pastry was not the issue here.

Brown Sauce: With it being a luxury pie I didn’t use any brown sauce, in retrospect perhaps I should have.

Overall: Yes it was massive, but it was bland, lacking in meat and not generously filled all whilst being rather pricy.

Gravy Factor: Like a melted down Smart Price Quiche but three times the price.

I should put a caveat at the end of this by saying I love the idea of seasonal pies but the execution in this instance wasn’t very good. Hopefully next time the seasonal offering from Ibrox is more of a taste sensation and this is not merely a tick box exercise to get more money out of fans. I’m still sussing out my next review at the moment. In Faro sustenance was provided in the form a hot dog topped with crisps, it sounds good but it wasn’t and I wished there was a pie instead. I love a Tartan Army trip but so far the ‘in-stadium’ dining experiences have been a bit of a let down.

These stories though are for another time so until then, go forth and eat pie! Oh, and remember to get those entries in if you think you are indeed the king of pies.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.