haggis

Pie 151: The Cumnock “Steak & Haggis” Pie

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Hello pie fans and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries where 150 pies were clearly never going to be enough.

As the years have ticked by I’ve had to keep track of those venues where I’ve had a pie before. When pulling together the infographic for Pie 150 I noticed I had somehow managed to do not one but two reviews from Rossvale. A stat made even more befuddlingly when you consider that neither had came from their current home at Huntershill  and that I had also managed to squeeze in a bridie review from the same club. At least with the bridie it could stand alone as part of the extended Meat Filled Pastries family. With that in mind I arrived at Cumnock knowing that I had previously reviewed both the scotch and onion pies fairly early in my journey and so I anticipated my culinary peak from Townhead Park to be the drinking of the rarely found 60/- from the Ayrshire side’s rather good social club.

My assumption however was wrong because as I approached the pie stall to get involved with some “Nock Nosh” I was greeted by the geuninely excited chatter from my fellow match day munchers that there were two new types of pies to sample. In the least surprising revelation of this post one of these new breeds managed to fall lovingly into my palm and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Townhead Park, Cumnock 1-3 Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round Replay

Price: At £2 this was at the top end of the junior pricing spectrum but given that I was on a promise of both steak and haggis I was more than willing to let this pastry whisper sweet nothings on my taste buds before deciding if I was getting value for money.

Presentation: Despite its steaky nature this pie went old school, presented as it was on a single medium-sized (maybe evem large) white napkin. As consumption progressed this proved more than plenty.

Meatiness: On entry to this pie I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Should there be lots of gravy? Will this marriage of haggis and steak mingle into a meaty morsel that will make my mouth moist with its magic?

I’m happy to report that the filling of this pie was indeed a belter. At first my taste buds were hit with a smooth but spicy punch of haggis, a flavour that is instantly recognisable to the initiated but almost indescribable to those yet to experience the joy of an offal stuffed lamb’s stomach. Immediately I deduced that there was no gravy to be found but that was not an issue as the moistness provided by all those bits that North America continue to hide from were ample and slowly gave way to large chunks of well cooked and tender steak. This filling was getting “the nod”. That moment when your head, mind and taste buds come together in unison to proclaim that the symphony of flavours that you are experiencing are in fact very, very good.

Pastry: The pastry on this pie was also very near the top end. The sides and base were well cooked and held firm against the moist filling although they were perhaps a little peely wally in colour. There was some boil out, and whilst that is sniffed at by some, I always feel it adds some character to a pastry. A little imperfection to help make it feel special. The colour shone as you gazed at this  pie from above, the top formed as it was with a lovely golden disc of puff pastry that broke off into buttery flakes whilst the underside merged with the filling below. This pie was pulling out all the stops.

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Brown Sauce: I’m almost compelled to say that brown sauce may have ruined this pie, which is a very bold statement indeed.

Overall: Steak + Haggis + Good Pastry = Happy Pie Punter.

Gravy Factor: No Gravy. Just good, good times.

This was a wonderful pastry surprise to come across on a dreich Saturday afternoon and it’s equally wonderful to see lower league football clubs and their providers identify the opportunity to expand their range. I will maintain until my dying days that a “killer” pie will do as much good for a side as a decent cup run or title challenge ever will especially when performance on the pitch is infinitely harder to control.

Next up I continue my quest to champion the women’s game as I attend the Scottish Women’s Cup Final between Hibernian and Motherwell where perhaps surprisingly I embark on my first review from Firhill, home of hipster’s choice Partick Thistle.

However 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 and  The Football Pink as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert. 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.

 

 

 

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Pie 88: The Spartans ‘Haggis & Neeps’ Pasty

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Now if I’m being honest my hand was forced a little so this new aspect to the blog is perhaps debuting a little earlier than I had anticipated. As a 5th week of non-league fixture call offs rolled in I found myself wrapped up in the magic of the cup and a trip to Edinburgh to see if Spartans or indeed Berwick Rangers could continue to defy the odds as for either of these clubs to be Scottish Cup quarter finalists is a feat not to be sniffed at. On my arrival to Ainslie Park I was greeted with a sea of humanity draped in red and white or black and gold. A crowd of over 2500 to see a game that in normal circumstances would be luck to even see a fifth of that. This is where the problem arrived. Usually I like to arrive early to the ground to ensure a pie is destined for my belly but on this, the most busy of days, the fates conspired against me. The incredulousness in my voice when I was offered a hot dog instead was perhaps a tad too far but it was then matched with relief that my trip to Edinburgh had not been in vain and a Haggis and Neeps Pasty was on offer.

So with a meat filled pastry in hand, all be it in a slightly altered format, let’s rate some pie! Eh, I mean pasty!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Ainslie Park, Spartans 1-1 Berwick Rangers, Scottish Cup 5th Round

Standing Room Only.
Standing Room Only.

Price: We enter new territory here, as I have no point of reference for pasty prices. My inclination would be to say that these goods should be no more or no less than the humble pie but we’ll see how things pan out. This offering was £1.50 a relative bargain and certainly nothing to complain about.

Presentation: This was curiously placed on a paper plate with no accompanying napkin. Now I’m willing to let the absence of a napkin slide as a table just beside the hatch could well have been housing a batch of mouth cleaning softness but I have a small issue with the plate. For all the benefits it gives in gathering any meat and pastry spillages it is also an awkward thing to hold whilst juggling a drink and programme. You’re also unable to roll a plate into a ball and put it in your pocket should no bins be present thus resulting in a bit of impromptu origami. This is just personal preference, but unless you know what you’re providing has a high moisture content then wrapping your pasty round a napkin is fine by me.

THE PIE PASTY

It's a Pasty. Not a Pie.
It’s a Pasty. Not a Pie.

Meatiness: It’s still a meat filled pastry so we shall still be assessing the meatiness of this offering and boy what a treat this was. Once you got to the filling, more on this later, you were greeted first with a lovely warm hit of smooth peppery haggis, spiced as you expect with the occasional pop of oats as you chewed through. Surprisingly though the real stars here were the small squares of neeps (in this case I’m guessing using swedes to take on the mantle, both by the colour and taste) tucked in and around the haggis adding little bursts of sweetness to cut through the spice. The filling here was sublime, an absolute triumph and lingered longer after completion had been completed.

Pastry: One of the good things about a pie is that by in large the pastry to filling ratio is pretty consistent aided by its hot water crust foundations with other pastries however, such as this pasty, the pastry will tend to be puff in nature and so the balance can vary quite significantly dependent on where you go. In this case there was perhaps a little too much pastry as my first, vegetarian friendly, bite would suggest with me unable to reach its meaty core until bite two was completed. Don’t get me wrong the pastry was flaky and tasted as golden as it looked it was just a little bit much although I’m pleased to report that it stayed together well at my mouths command.

Brown Sauce: With no obvious well for the sauce to sit in, as found atop a pie, no sauce would be forthcoming to this pasty.

Overall: A bit heavy on the pastry but wowsers what a filling, a helluva introduction to the world of non-pie based pastries.

Gravy Factor: Burns Night Gravy. Worthy of a national bard.

Well that is how you set the standard when you’re the first of a new breed, I look forward to seeing how others rise to the challenge. Next up though we will be returning to where it all started with a scotch pie offering from Airdrieonians.

Until next time go forth and eat pie! Or a pasty!

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 83: The Thorniewood United Pie

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It’s Meat Filled Pastries Time! Let’s. Get. Meeeeatyyyy!

Hello, hope you’re well, I thought today I’d address just a couple of the most commonly asked questions I’ve received since starting my journey of pie. Just a couple though, I wouldn’t want to be struggling for words when it comes to writing my memoirs. I thought the best way to do this would be to answer the two questions that are asked by 90% of the people who hear my story, namely, “Who Does the Best Pies?” and “Don’t You Ever Get Sick of Pies?”. Consider it an end of year treat for you all.

Firstly let’s address the number one question I’m asked, “Who Does the Best Pies?”, but to be honest it’s far more complex than blurting out a name or venue. For starters there are lots of different types of pie available, some scotch, some steak and some completely different. To pick one, as a solo muncher of pies, when there is a multitude of parameters to consider would be reckless on my part. Secondly I like to think the best I’ve ever had is always the next one to pass by my lips, call it part of my relentless optimism to do with all things related to pie. That not a good enough answer? Sounding a little too measured and political? Well OK then, some standouts for me are ‘The Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie’ and one I haven’t ever reviewed on the pages of Meat Filled Pastries ‘The Burghead Thistle Mince Pie’. Two that still to this day linger long in the taste buds.

Secondly, ‘Do I Ever Get Sick of Pies?’ Course not silly, pies are awesome.

Seriously though, not really. Due to the volume I find myself consuming at football matches it’s not something I tend to have for my dinner or lunch. My favourite item from Greggs is a Roll and Chicken Bake and the amount of effort that goes into making a really good pie, pastry and all, means that they tend to get made as treat (usually for the amusement of others) as opposed to being a regular item on my homemade menu. I like pies but I love food and to limit myself to one item would be just too much to bear.

That said this one item has gave me a lot of stories and brought me a lot of fun, so without further ado let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Robertson Park, Thorniewood United v Pollok, West of Scotland Super League First Division

Pretty sure I got trench foot...
Pretty sure I got trench foot…

Price: £1.20. Slap bang in the middle of the junior price range for a scotch pie. Can’t really have too many complaints with that.

Presentation: Aside from the ever classical medium-sized white napkin this scotch pie was presented in a tin foil case a somewhat unusual style for a scotch pie, even more unusual for a junior pie. Perhaps I have been doing this too long already but when I noticed its shiny silver surround a little part of me actually went, ‘oh, that’s new!’, and you know what, it was!

THE PIE

Oooooo silver, fancy!
Oooooo silver, fancy!

Meatiness: This pie was very moist but as I sit here typing this latest review I find it hard to remember anything standout about it, reviewing my short notes on the day moist is all I had written. Moist and pleasant (Mind out the gutter please folks). Something I will admit, and is apparent as I write this review, that if a pie filling is relatively tasty, has nice seasoning and doesn’t leave a waxy trail of grease glued to my arm then it’s fine by me. It just doesn’t give me a whole lot to write about. This pie is an example of that. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but not one to be stored in the vault.

Pastry: It had a nice crispy top with an even thickness of pastry all around. It was perhaps a little soft underneath. A consequence of the tin foil case it sat within but nothing went where it shouldn’t be as I ate. Did a job.

Brown Sauce: This brown sauce was a lot lighter in colour and was almost apple sweet, it had a gentle tang to it and was a nice complimentary flavour to the pastry and meat underneath.

Overall: Nice enough, but won’t live long in the memory.

Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto.

A solid if unspectacular effort from Tannochside, the junior pie bandwagon rolls on with an offering from Ardrossan Winton Rovers and it’s something that is a little bit special.

However until then though, go forth and eat pie!

BONUS PIE! The Commonwealth Games ‘Steak & Haggis’ Pie

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DISCLAIMER: This is a bit of fun to continue to spread the love of the Commonwealth Games and one of Glasgow’s most distinguishable snacks the humble pie. Kind Regards. CPO, Chris.

Ding Ding! It’s time for the first bonus pie of the season. Pies that have not been consumed in the presence of twenty-two men kicking a ball about a rectangular grass field but instead in a variety of locations across the globe sporting or otherwise. A surprisingly large number of people (more than two) have been asking, ‘So when you doing a ‘Commonwealth Games’ pie?’.

You see for the last 11 days the biggest sporting event Glasgow has ever seen has been right on my front door and I have flung myself well and truly into it. I have loved it, the atmosphere has been amazing, the events have been well organised and entertaining and the volunteers were relentlessly cheery to the very end. I don’t think anybody could have anticipated it going so well but after the debacle in Delhi the Commonwealth Games is back on the map. Anyway at the various events I attended I was always on the look out for a pie, but alas none were to be found.

Well that’s not strictly true. At the Rugby Sevens held at Ibrox there were pies a plenty, however the full Ibrox range has gone under the Pie-croscope already and so with a heavy heart I resolved to having to leave pies off my Commonwealth menu. That was until a trip to my local supermarket uncovered the joyous sight of the Limited Edition Commonwealth Games Steak & Haggis Pie from Bells.

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

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: My Gaff. Entry: Free, it’s my house if I charged myself to enter my house that would be just mental.

This is my ACTUAL living room
This is my ACTUAL living room

Price: Before I reveal the price of this pie let me please remind you this was bought from a supermarket, not from a pie stall, roasting hot and ready from the oven. There would be a bit of preparation required on my part and it would be remiss to ignore the fact that this is a mass-produced pie. So bearing that in mind a price of 50p per pie is still bloody brilliant. 50p! 50P! Five! Zero! Bargain of all bargains right there.

Presentation: The two pies per pack were wrapped in a thin plastic wrapper with the design of a fluttering saltire across it, a Bell’s branded badge in the corner and the contents of the pie scrawled across the top. Once opened these meaty beauties were neatly fitted into two clear plastic pie holders. I fired them into the over for the recommended 15 minutes and presented them to myself on a small, square black plate accompanied with the customary medium-sized white napkin, in the form of a piece of kitchen roll. It was time to scran this pie.

THE PIE

Never with a knife and fork
Never with a knife and fork.

Meatiness: This pie was filled with a thin meaty layer of equivalent thickness to the pastry above and below. Although billed as a Steak & Haggis pie, suggesting a 50/50 split at least of its two component parts, this pie was very much haggis based. This wasn’t a bad thing as it gave a spicy pepper kick to the pie and meant the filling felt thick and unctuous. The few bits of steak dotted throughout were chunked largely enough to provide a contrast in texture to the haggis and thanks to my expert use of the oven the steak pulled away in strips between my teeth. Haggis in its nature is quite moist and so although there was no discernible gravy this pie was anything but dry. Its only real let down was the shallow nature of the filling making it all feel a little bit stingy.

Brown Sauce: Don’t let the bottle of HP in this picture throw you. This is a luxury pie so no sauce required.

Pastry: The pastry was a little limp, there was no steam hole on top although would it really be required given the home-baked nature of this meat filled pastry. Some parts turned golden some stayed as pale as they were before I placed them in the oven. In mass producing the pie I always feel it’s the pastry that suffers more than anything else and this pie was a case in point.

Overall: It was 50p. It had a bit of steak in it and some haggis. This pie was made to be eaten in Scotland.

Gravy Factor: Patriotic Gravy.

Well that was a bonus pie, the next pie will be something a bit more football based from an as yet undecided location. Howver continuing the Commonwealth theme I’ll be looking at whether or not football should have a place in the newly dubbed ‘friendly games’ at some point this week. This will however be after my preview of the upcoming Scottish Premiership season for The Football Pink.

Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Pie 72: The Blantyre Victoria Pie

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Have you ever tried to eat a pie in 28 degree heat? Yeah me neither, until now that is.

For the unaware amongst you a heat wave hit the west coast of Scotland that left many reaching for the Factor 50 and as the Commonwealth Games rolled into town I had enough time to nip to Castle Park, home of Blantyre Victoria, for a pre-season friendly before getting home just in time to see a bunch of dancing teacakes look on in horror as SuBo fluffed her lines.

It could have been worse though, for all we know wee Susie could have looked out at the psychedelic nonsense going on before her and thought she had died and gone to Tunnock’s heaven, diving head first into an unsuspecting volunteer trying to first tear the wrapper off the marshmallowy behemoth before consuming it whole. This of course leads to the all important decision of whether or not to lay out the empty foil flat on the ground or to roll it up into a tiny ball before flicking it into the distance in no particular direction. The poor lassie.

Sorry, went off on a tangent there. The point I was aiming when I started out here was that a roasting hot day is not ideal pie eating conditions, but as always I found a way to bring a new pie review to you.

So after finding a shady spot to cool myself down, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Castle Park, Blantyre Victoria v Pollok, Pre-Season Friendly. Entry: £3. Programme: None.

Storming the Castle Park walls to get some pie!
Storming the Castle Park walls to get some pie!

Price: There was no menu adorning the pie stall window, and in haste to get out the sun I forgot to ask how much I had to part with for my pastry. However using some simple algebra deducting the price of multiple cans of fizzy pop from the pie purchases of those around me I can confirm this pie can be yours for a solitary British pound. Bargain!

Presentation: It was white. It was medium-sized. It was a napkin. And that’s all I have to say about that.

THE PIE

Stick a flake in it and call it Pi-ce Cream!
Stick a flake in it and call it Pi-ce Cream!

Meatiness: This pie was perfectly pleasant. Nothing outstanding but a tasty meaty treat nonetheless. The meat was relatively well packed although did fall apart a little the more I bit into it. It was moist without being greasy and although the peppery linger didn’t last long on the palate it was still present after I’d finished. It was the kind of pie that is hard to get really enthused about but at the same time leaves you with nothing bad to say either.

Brown Sauce: That’s right we have a new section folks. It’s something I have toyed with in the past but my early season experiences have shown that the sauce itself is a stand alone feature of any pie whether it be good or bad. So how was the brown sauce at Castle Park? In a word: tangy, adding a sparkle of flavour that this pie was maybe slightly lacking. However be careful as too much and you could end up looking like your sucking an invisible milkshake through an equally invisible straw. It provided some added lubrication with a distinct tart tang.

Pastry: The pastry was soft and crumbly, the edges weren’t particularly crisp so there was no brown sauce dunking on this pie but it did mean that if you were in a rush you could eat this pie in a flash. This pastry would be a favourite with the pie eating sprinters but may disappoint those who are in it for the long haul.

Overall: New section about Brown Sauce aside this was a pretty standard pie, but for a pound you can’t really grumble.

Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto.

All things going well my next review will be from Beith, home of one of the best pies of last season the luxury Chicken and Haggis Pie and one of the worst the Scotch Pie. Hopefully the Steak Pie on offer is closer to the former as opposed to the latter. In other news I will be the Scottish correspondent for The Football Pink this season, a link to which can be found on the left hand side of the page, starting with an SPL review that I plan to get done this week. Give the site a visit and order a copy should you get the chance.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Pie 29: The Beith ‘Chicken & Haggis’ Pie

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Yes, that really is mashed potato on top of a pie!
Yes, that really is mashed potato on top of a pie!

It’s been a while since my last Junior pie review, so I am happy to report that this week I will again be bringing you not one, but two pie’s for your mental consumption. My regular attendance of Junior football games is what started this particular little project, and so it gives me great pleasure to bring you more meat filled pastries from the places most of you would never even consider going to, let alone think a football team is there selling pies. This week we start with a special treat, a pie that has a reputation as being one of the best around. So much so, that I had to forgo the usual routine of starting my pie tastings with a scotch mince pie, and instead go straight into the lap of luxury such was my concern that the pie shown above would be sold out before I had a chance to smack my lips right around it.

I also have a bit of exciting ‘Meat Filled Pastries’ news but you’ll have to wait for the aforementioned second Beith pie review later in the week before I reveal this latest development, let’s just say my mouth is going to be doing more than just eating pies in a couple of weeks time.

So with that rather cryptic statement out the way, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Bellsdale Park, Beith v Pollok, West of Scotland Cup 1st Rd

Price: £1.50 for a luxury pie is a price not to be sniffed at, especially considering it is a pound cheaper than some of it’s SPFL contemporaries and with a far more interesting filling waiting inside.

Presentation: Presented in a silver tin foil case, something that I would be thankful for later, and a large branded napkin for ‘Irvine’s Baker and Coffee Shop’. I liked this touch a lot, not only is it smart for a small business to promote itself and hopefully continue to be a success, but it also gives you the pie consumer a point of origin. In fact it also give’s me as a reviewer a fair chance to point people in the right direction if a pie is worthy of the Meat Filled Pastries stamp of approval.

Meatiness: As can already be seen this pie is not mince nor steak, but the heady combination of chicken and haggis. As I write this I wonder if someone somewhere has thought to christen this the ‘Balmoral Pie’ after that dish commonly found at many a Scottish sit down function. If they haven’t then I will happily allow it’s use on the condition that I get a lifetime supply of these beauties. Firstly it was bursting with meaty goodness! The chicken was cut into rough 1cm cubes, perfect size to provide texture without resulting in you pulling large bits of meat out the centre of your pie when biting. The haggis added a creaminess and that all important hint of pepper and spice that makes a truly great pie which, when coupled with the chicken gravy inside, left you craving that second bite almost as soon as you had dabbed the corner of your lip from taking the first.

Pastry: The pastry was as close to perfect as I’ve had yet, it was sealed with the kind of precision that would have Paul Hollywood stroking his nipples with glee. A golden top with a thin crisp layer and the pastry round the sides soft enough to bite straight through. Then there was the mashed potato, that’s right mashed potato, on a blinkin’ pie, madness I hear you say? Not at all. Although not a world beating mash it provided a lovely contrast to the pastry that surrounded it. My only minor criticism would be that the moistness of the filling did mean that after a few bites the insides fell out the bottom a bit, but I’m not really caring as it was well worth the messy fingers.

Overall: I created the term ‘Luxury Pie’ initially to cover any pie that wasn’t your standard mince pie, however this effort has raised the bar considerably. Fully worth the extra expense and the title of ‘Luxury Pie’ not only for its taste but also its originality.

Gravy Factor: The ‘Balmoral’ Pie would be the kind of gravy that Prince Charles would have at a royal visit and immediately get onto the marketing men at Duchy Originals to buy get it bought out and trademark it as their very own gravy. Lovely, lovely gravy.

The first poultry pie is in the books, and I think you’ll agree that it has done rather well for itself, I’m aiming to get the mince pie review up on Wednesday night, will it fair so well? And perhaps more importantly what is the big announcement from MFP HQ?

Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side. Finally if you could take some time to visit ‘The Grambler’ or make a donation to ‘The Booby Moore Fund’ it would be most appreciated.