Hello and welcome to the first pie review of the new year. 2019 will see me continue to try to find the best match day pastries around. One of the questions I often get asked is who makes the best football pies. I’ve often shied away from it as I’m not sure what the right answer has been, but with a new year comes new ideas and for the very first time I present to you the 2018 Meat Filled Pastries Awards.
I’ve split this into 3 categories – Best Scotch Pie, Best Luxury Pie, Best Non-Pie Pastry. I should note that at this point that this is for only new pies consumed in 2018, to include pies tasted more than a year ago just doesn’t feel right. So here we go:
Best Scotch Pie 2018 – Pie 131: The Bathgate Thistle Pie
A former World Scotch Pie Champion this offering had all the key components a good scotch pie should have all just fine tuned and turned up a little. Honourable mention to Pie 153: The Partick Thistle Pie for keeping the senior flag flying.
Best Luxury Pie 2018 – Pie 151: The Cumnock Steak & Haggis Pie
A surprise winner here. Not because the combination of steak and haggis shouldn’t have been delicious, it definitely can be, and it was but because I turned up at Townhead Park with zero expectation of having a new pie to review. To be then greeted with this beauty was truly something wonderful. Honourable mention also goes to Pie 142: The Troon Steak Pie, a pie that could feed a million people quite easily such was its generosity in size and flavour.
Best Non-Pie Pastry 2018 – Pie 130: The Girvan Sausage Roll
This was a tough one to call as it easily could have also gone to Pie 153: The Ardrossan Winton Rovers Bridie but this sausage roll just edges it with its size and neatness in construction tipping the balance in its favour. The smear of mustard inside the pastry an inspired addition.
A strong showing for the Scottish Juniors here. I had a slight concern that I was viewing these with a non-league bias but when I read back through the reviews the words really did speak for themselves. I’m writing this on the 1st January 2019 and so I thought it would be remiss of me not to welcome in the new year with a new steak pie review, this time from the Lowland League as I spent the Friday night between Christmas and New Year at the Falkirk Stadium as East Stirlingshire took on University of Stirling.
So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: The Falkirk Stadium, East Stirlingshire 2-2 University of Stirling, Lowland League
Price: At £2.40 it feels like this pastry pricing was a victim of its surroundings being as it was right at the very top end of the non-league pastry pricing structure whilst also being higher than many SPFL pastries.
Presentation: Presented in a tin foil case which sat on top of a super large double layered white napkin which helped to protect your hand from the oven fresh pie.
Meatiness: There was a fairly decent filling held within this pastry. The gravy was well-flavoured and had a nice consistency to it that when you took a bite it popped up through the hole in the pastry. A little dark brown chimney of savouriness to help you power through a cold December evening. There perhaps could have been a bit more meat distributed throughout, and perhaps what was there could have been distributed a little more evenly but it was tasty enough nevertheless.
Pastry: One of the things I often reference when reviewing a pie that has been presented inside a tin foil case is that it’s often a challenge to both keep the pastry in tact and also ensure it is properly baked. One of the method’s of stopping this sticky situation is to line the bottom of the tin with a floury layer. This was what was applied here and whilst it meant the pastry didn’t stick the layer was a little too thick giving a slight raw flour taste to the bite and although it didn’t stick it was perhaps a little soft too although it did stay entirely intact which has to be commended.
Brown Sauce: It’s a new year but the same rules apply. A luxury pie should provide you all the saucey substances you ever need.
Overall: A decent effort. Everything tasted fine but I would have liked to have seen a little more meat in the filling and a little more bake on the base.
Gravy Factor: Decent gravy.
This is the first of two reviews from East Stirlingshire, with review two focusing a bit more on the match day experience at the Falkirk Stadium as well as on another meat filled marvel.
However until then, go forth into 2019 and eat some pie!
Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.
Aye alright I know this isn’t a pie, but it is a meat filled pastry, and given the successful tasting experience that was Pie 129: The Girvan Scotch Pie it would have been remiss of me not to give this a bash whilst I was in the area.
More on that in a minute but speaking of things that aren’t quite pies it would be equally remiss of me not to mention the launching of a new venture from your intrepid pie eater. For nearly five years I have travelled the country and beyond tasting a wide variety of pies, pasties, sausage rolls and bridies, casting judgement on what I believe to be a good meat filled pastry. I have also for a large part of that time been a frequent visitor (including a few months as an inhabitant) to Spain where they and their Latin American cousins share my passion for a good pastry.
So what does this all mean? Well I am happy to announce a new venture: Empanadas Escoces. My attempt to bring the best of hispanic pastries to Glasgow and who knows maybe beyond. I have no idea how this will go. It could be a disaster. It could be a runaway success. Either way I’m going to give it a bash and see what happens. I’ll no doubt post the odd update on here but if you want to keep up to date with everything as it happens then you can follow @empanadassco on Twitter & Instagram whilst you can also find news on Facebook by searching Empanadas Escoces. If this site has taught me anything over the last few years it’s that you never know until you have a go.
With that public service announcement out the way, let’s get back to the reason why you all came here in the first place. Without much further ado, let’s rate some sausage roll!
Where: Hamilton Park, Girvan 0-5 Pollok, West Superleague Premier Division
Oh by the way, this is Ronnie, he’s one of the regular home and away crew when going to Pollok games. There you go son you are now pie famous. Anyway…
Price: £1.20. Exactly the same as a pie. It’s funny but sometimes the price of a sausage roll (or any other non pie pastry for that matter) can vary greatly when compared to the prince of pastries so it was good to see a consistent price point here.
Presentation: With a sausage roll the napkin has an added significance as instead of being used to place your pastry on it is almost an automatic reflex to wrap said roll in its soft white paper duvet. In this instance the size of the napkin was more than sufficient.
Meatiness: On first looks, as I hope this picture illustrates, this was a massive roll. This, perhaps surprisingly, had me a little concerned as usually big appearances mean that the meat to pastry ratio can be way off, and in some cases downright unacceptable. I am happy to report though that on this occasion the meat content just about made the grade. A puff pastry case will always struggle to compete with a hot water crust when it comes to meat content percentages but with this pastry I felt I was getting a decent sized banger for my buck. The sausage meat had a nice texture with the levels of fat just right to add moistness whilst the meat itself was very tasty. One thing I did notice as I made my way through was the presence of a yellow smear on top of the sausage meat. My only conclusion is that it had to be mustard and if it was it certainly didn’t distract my taste buds during the eating experience.
Pastry: Whilst there was lots of pastry (perhaps a little too much) there was no doubting the quality of the bake. The layers evenly split and flaky whilst the colour on the outside was golden and even. One of the common fall down points for a sausage roll can be the pastry slipping off and you being left with a limp sausage dangling from your fist shorn of its pastry sheath. In this case there was no risk of that happening.
Brown Sauce: Logistically, for me anyway, condiments on a sausage roll just don’t make sense. They slide off, have nowhere to realistically gather and in general are just a bit of a mess.
Overall: Excellent if slightly too plentiful pastry wrapped around some well-flavoured sausage meat. What was that yellow substance though?
Gravy Factor: A Bangin’ Banger.
Well I think it’s safe to say that Girvan has gone on the list of “good football eat locations” with a more than solid scotch pie and sausage roll offering. Well played. Moving on and for fans of the pie reviews this weekend I took a trip to Bathgate Thistle who’s pies are supplied by a former 2x winner of the World Scotch Pie Championship so that will be going on the site soon whilst my International Soccer Scran Series will next take us to Nuremberg. So plenty to look forward to 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. He’s now taken this passion further in the form of Empanadas Escoces a venture inspired by the taste of Spanish pies and a desire to bring them to Scottish Shores.
Finally after what feels like eons, it’s time for a new pie review. Well that’s not strictly true as last month I once again dusted off the net lined hat, tow my white coat down from it’s trusty hook on my bedroom door and headed to my second Scottish Baker of the Year Judging Day in the Kingdom of Fife.
WHist the Scotch Pie Championships focus soley on the pie and is very much incumbunt on the piemaker deciding that their pie is the best of the best Scottish Baker of the Year relies on over 22,500 customers to pick their favourite baked goods from across the country. Split across seven categories I always worry about the early on-set diabetes that the cakes and biscuits sections will bring the judges there, whilst the idea of judging 100’s of loaves, looking for a grain even slightly out of place to differentiate between good and excellent, is to daunting a task for this man.
Luckily though, I was placed on home turf in the savoury pastry section and over the course of 4 hours me and my fellow judges heated, cut, fondled, sniffed and tasted 151 savoury treats all in the hope of finding the ultimate in Scottish savoury pastry cuisine. It’s always a fun if somewhat filling day and I think the winner is a belter, but to tell you what that is I’d have to kill you so whilst we wait for that announcement next month let’s get elbow deep into a pastry I can talk about, the latest entry into Meat Filled Pastries catacombs, the Girvan FC Scotch Pie.
So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.
Where: Hamilton Park, Girvan 0-5 Pollok, West Superleague Premier Division
Price: £1.20. As this journey of pie enters its fifth (yes fifth!) year it’s still heartening that you can find a pie that won’t break the bank. £1.20 for a hot meal will always be a bargain.
Presentation: A classical presentation style with the pie being presented on a medium-to-large white napkin. Ample room to hold the pie and dab the corner of your mouth at the same time.
Meatiness: As the small sign on the heater proclaimed this was very much a butchers pie. The fill was generous to the point of bursting with the meat well textured and perhaps just a little bit coarser than you would normally expect from a scotch pie. Whilst scotch pies are usually kissed with pepper and mace, along with what ever other secret spices the producer decides to use, this pie was seasoned simply with salt and pepper allowing the flavour of the meat to really sing. The meat was savoury and although it took a couple of bites for my palate to tune in to this filling, once it did, I found myself nodding along with every bite, a sure-fire sign that this was indeed a tasty pastry.
Pastry: The good news continued with the pastry, I mean look at it! Not only incredibly neat but also golden around the bottom, top and sides with not a hint of under-baking where the meat meets the pastry, something that was strangely all too prevalent on the aforementioned judging day. It held up well to the bite and at no point did I feel a juggling motion was required to prevent spillage.
Brown Sauce: HP. It appears there really was no messing about with this Girvan Pie.
Overall: Now maybe because it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these reviews but this was a really good scotch pie. The filling was meaty and tasty despite not having my favoured pepper kick. The pastry was near as perfect as I’ve seen at a football ground and overall I contemplated on more than one occasion getting another one.
Gravy Factor: Fit as a Butcher’s Pie.
Yes, that was some good pie, and as I mentioned I very nearly went and got a second but then, the next item down piqued my interest and it’s gargantuan golden glint caught my eye which is good news for you dear reader as next up I will have a second review from Girvan in the form of a, rarely seen on these pages, sausage roll.
I also have another edition of the International Soccer Scran Series I’m working on so the content will keep on coming before the seasons over. 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.