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Pie 90: The St. Andrews United ‘Steak’ Pie

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If this was cricket they would be talking about how nervous I should be getting as I head towards the magical ton but Meat Filled Pastries is just not cricket, it is a celebratory smorgasbord of all things pastry and this journey rolls on. So what’s been happening…

Well it’s #BritishPieWeek so I have been setting about spreading the good word of pie, starting with a piece on the return of Pollok’s Pie Hut, something this fan is particularly relieved about, it just feels a bit wrong to go to a match and not have a pie of some kind on offer. If there was ever a week for you to have a pie, this is it!

Also on a personal level, myself and a group of friends recently hosted a charity night for the Kick Bowel Cancer’s Backside Fund for our friend Stewart ‘Smit’ Smith who passed away aged 28. I’ve spoken about him a few times in the blog so I’ll restrain myself from eulogizing further but I thought I’d let you know we raised a fantastic £2400 and I just want to take the chance on the most far-reaching of my communicative forums to say a big thank you to everyone who came along and those who donated. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with our progress. In a month where not one, but two young footballers have died well before their time it is always important for this pie guy to remember that life is for living as you’ll never know when it could be taken away.

So without further ado, let’s rate some pie.

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Recreation Park, St Andrews United 0-4 Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup 5th Round

Price: You know it amazes me but even after 18 months of doing this, I forget what order I do these things in. I always have to re-visit the previous blog to get it right. Now you may be asking where the scotch pie offering is from the home of golf, well when getting the pie round in (I’m the pie guy, that’s what I do) I was greeted with 1 steak pie and 4 scotch. So in the interest of fairness and to save myself a bit of a quandary I took it upon myself to have the steak pie. Priced at £1.60 this was a relative bargain in the world of luxury pies.

Presentation: Presented on a large white napkin but without the tin foil cases usually found adorning a steak pie.

THE PIE

Wonder if they have one of these bad boys stoating round The Old Course
Wonder if they have one of these bad boys stoating round The Old Course

Meatiness: This was a savoury delight, quite salty but not in a bad way as it compensated for the lack of any real heat usually provided by a pepper-based kick. There was a good variety of chunks some big that required biting all the way through and some smaller that would pop straight into your mouth before bursting with its meaty goodness and yes, as I finish writing this sentence I realise that description is ripe for innuendo! The gravy was the right level of unctuous, thick enough to hold within the pie as it awaited its next bite but thin enough so that it did not feel floury or gloopy. This was a smashing example of a luxury meat filling.

Pastry: The pastry was golden perfection as I’m sure the picture above will testify too, a palette of golds and brown, like a puff pastry sunset setting over a sea of lovely, lovely gravy. It was crisp and the soft layers underneath melded beautifully with the filling within. Despite this pie being somewhat wetter in nature due to its steak based content the base and sides remained in tact throughout although they did sag just a little.

Overall: Great Filling. Great Pastry. Great Pie.

Gravy Factor: Not so much gravy but more a heavenly jus.

Well it’s safe to say St. Andrews United should be pleased with their efforts next time I’m there the scotch pie will be under the piecroscope. As it stands next time out is still a bit of a mystery but I assure you wherever it may be a pie will be consumed.

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.

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Pie 66: The Fulham ‘Steak’ Pie

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Down by the Riverside...
Down by the RiversPie…

It has taken nearly 16 hours of sleep and general slovenliness today but finally it is time to say welcome back to Meat Filled Pastries and Pie 66 on my quest to tell you about the best pies around. Today’s malaise has been brought as a result of a couple of days spent in London with the Tartan Army. This particular adventure took me to Craven Cottage a ground I have always wanted to visit for its refusal to turn itself into a cantilever carbon copy of so many grounds in the Premiership. The cottage in the corner with its 72-seat capacity, its sudden emergence from the heart of west London’s leafy suburbia and the river bubbling by at the side of the stand all designed to endear the ground to football traditionalists everywhere. At this stage I should probably confess this review may come across as a little fuzzy as a 7am flight from Glasgow meant that come kick off time at 8pm the same day I was rather well lubricated. I’ve also made the assumption that this pie would be the same pie provided should I attend an actual Fulham game, as I’m not sure if there is a long history of meat filled pastries in Nigerian culture.

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

Where: Craven Cottage, Nigeria v Scotland, International Friendly

Price: Considering Craven Cottage’s location in one of the more affluent areas of one of the most expensive cities in the world it should come as no surprise that this pie left a sizeable dent in your wallet. That dent was to the tune of £3.80, the equivalent of about 3 Scottish Junior Pies! Despite my suspicions being proven correct it still prompted an ‘Excuse Me!?’ (the language may have been tidied up a bit here), as the young chap behind the counter opened the till.

Presentation: I wonder if they would have knocked a pound of the price if I had just asked for a napkin?!? This pie was pimped. First at the base was a small cardboard holder producing additional shielding from the heat generated at the base of the pie transferring itself to the tinfoil case it was sitting within. Slotted between the cardboard holder and the tin foil case was a square of picnic-like greaseproof paper, totally superfluous to the consumption of the pie itself in that it did not help to hold the pie nor clean your face after its consumption, however, this was not the most ridiculous thing about it. Oh no, that was reserved for the plastic fork plonked, and I mean plonked, directly into the middle of the pie!

A B#**@@”ING FORK! Do the delicate digits of the nearby Belgravians not appreciate getting down and dirty when it comes to eating a pie? Look girls, take off the silk gloves, tuck in your pearls, get your hands on this meaty marvel and get right set about it, if you get a bit of gravy on your chin then wipe it off with the napkin provided and then touch up your make up in the closest WC. DO NOT EAT A PIE AT THE FOOTBALL WITH A B#**@@”ING FORK. I challenge anyone to try to eat a pie with a plastic fork and see how long you last before your throwing it away in anger and getting elbow deep in your pastry.

Meatiness: This is probably where this review is going to go downhill a bit as it is at this point that my review notes stop and my memory will have to come in to play, so I apologise for what may be about to follow. Reviewing my notes I am able to tell you that the meat inside was formed by large chunks of steak, my preference when eating a luxury steak pie, but from here though it’s a struggle. I’m assuming there was an abundance of gravy as when I woke up in the morning a gravy smattered napkin was in my jumper pocket and I do remember thinking that the pie was well seasoned within. Whether or not it was £3.80 worth of well seasoned? Well, a second trip may be required.

Pastry: Now for some reason I have a pretty good memory of the pastry. The top of the pie was a thick-ish layer of puff pastry, the kind of puff where you can noticeably see the layers and it flaked nicely as I bit down. The top of the filling and the bottom of the top crust mixed well and although there were a couple of spillages more than likely down to my compromised dexterity the pie held together well throughout. The edge of the crust where the walls and top met were a little thick for my liking, a minor grumble but that thick edging would have no doubt broken any plastic fork that attempted to break it down.

Overall: A good but pricey steak pie that kept this drunk man’s hunger at bay. It was presented like a box of chocolates and it would be remiss of me not to say that eating a pie by the riverside was how I’d like all my pie tastings to be. There was no scotch offering but that was to be expected.

Gravy Factor: Look, you just don’t eat gravy with a fork no matter how luxuriously it’s priced!

Another pie done, I’m almost tempted to call this a bonus pie, purely on the basis that I wasn’t expecting to remember it sufficiently for a coherent review but I think I’ve done a pretty good job considering. There’s still a few more pie reviews to come before things kick off in Rio at which point I’ll be taking a break from the pie chat for a few weeks.

However until, next time go forth an eat pie!

Pie 65: The Scottish Cup Final ‘Steak & Ale’ Pie

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But that's not a Pie!
But that’s not a Pie!

Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, all about the pastry of all pastries the humble pie. This latest review comes from The Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park between St. Johnstone and Dundee United and as you may have already noticed I have had a camera related mishap when it comes to the capturing the one bite expose that graces every review I do. Put simply I haven’t saved it. I took it. I know I did because I remember looking at the picture and thinking what a tiny looking bite I had taken but alas as I went to upload it there was no picture to be found. That however doesn’t mean there will be no pie review.  I ate a pie and you need to hear about it so instead of a pie glistening in the sun you have my view from the stands as Dave Mackay lifted the trophy for the first time in St. Johnstone’s 130 year history.

The other thing to make you aware of is that I have broken my own rules by not having a simple scotch pie on my first visit to Celtic Park since this blog has started. Instead as a fitting tribute to the celebratory feel that the cup final provided I dived head first into the luxury market safe in the knowledge that I will return to Celtic Park soon as a member of the Tartan Army.

So it’s a luxury steak and ale offering this time round, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Celtic Park, St Johnstone v Dundee United, Scottish Cup Final

Price: At £2.90 this pie certainly had a price that matched its luxury status with only Pie: 36, The Hampden Curry Pie, being more expensive on my journey so far. There was an option to combine as part of a meal deal which would save you 10p or so overall but I ignored this option. Even with a potential 10p deduction this pie had some pricey expectations to meat, and yes I am aware I’ve spelt ‘meet’ wrong but sometimes a pie pun is too good to miss. Moving on….

Presentation: Before I actually get to the pie itself I feel I should let you know how this pie arrived in my paw. Whilst standing in a queue that was clearly going nowhere fast I noticed a refreshment hut solely devoted to pies. I booming love this idea as I approached the counter there was no queue and I was served straight away. Obviously I was delighted to have my hands on some hot pie but saddened that the chips, burgers, hot dogs and even pizzas (which looked rotten by the way) brigade continue to force their way into the football snacking market. It wasn’t just that though there was also indian and mexican food stands each offering their own alternatives to our grizzly pie faced veteran. Some will say variety is the spice of life and, in general, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement but a football ground is not where you should experience your first taste of cuisines from around the world, it was all just a bit annoying. As for the pie itself it was presented in a tin foil case with a slightly larger than normal napkin, pretty standard although I couldn’t hep but notice the sheer size of it and suddenly £2.90 didn’t seem too bad at all.

Meatiness: Recently I have found the steak pies I have been offered have shied away from the tender meaty chunks approach of pie preferring a texture closer to the cheaper scotch pie equivalents, on this occasion however I am happy to report the return of the meaty chunks. It’s these chunks of pull apart tender steak that really make these pies worthy of the luxury name. There can be no debate about the fact you are eating meat and it means the gravy, that was well seasoned with a lovely malty background taste from the ale, can truly wrap itself around the chunks and be assessed independently in its own right as i have jsut done. This was a really tasty pie and as I have alluded to earlier the filling inside was generous to the extreme, this was no four bite wonder but a full ten minutes of happily nibbling away.

Pastry: The pastry was a classic puff all the way round with the top hanging over the edges of the tin foil case in which it resided. This however caused a problem with the lid coming clean off after a couple of bites, something which I will do if a pie is presented to me on a plate but not the most convenient of things when standing in a football ground. Luckily my years of pie eating experience meant that I could strategically place each bite so that by the end I was left with only a small mound of meat to scoop up with my fingers. The pastry was lovely although a few knobs of butter short of being truly great but given the volume of the meat it provided a well judged counter to the richness within. This pastry was far more than a receptacle for the meat inside.

Overall: I really liked this pie, especially the additional of ale in the gravy. The malty notes it gives when mixed with the chunks of gravy are a taste sensation that all pie lovers should at least get to try once. It was huge and  although still a bit pricey by the time I finished eating I certainly didn’t feel short-changed. The top was loose but what was inside more than made up for it, maybe not quite the best ‘Steak & Ale’ pie I’ve had but as an overall package I would certainly have it again.

Gravy Factor: Chunky Ale Gravy! Yum!

A pie certainly worthy of a cup final, my next review, alcohol intake permitting, will be from Craven Cottage as Scotland take on Nigeria. I’m disappointed that the Michael Jackson statue will not be there to pose beside but a Tartan Army trip away is always an adventure not to be missed.

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

Pie 65: The Hamilton Accies ‘Steak’ Pie

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STEEEEAAAAAK!!!
STEEEEAAAAAK!!!

Not much of a pre-amble to this latest addition to my ever growing pynasty. It’s another pie review from that 12 goal extravaganza at New Douglas Park and a return to the luxury market. As it stands there will be at least 3 more reviews before the season ends but I’m going to keep their locations a secret for now.

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

Where: New Douglas Park, Hamilton Accies v Morton, SPFL Championship

Price: Breaking the £2 barrier at £2.10 not the cheapest steak pie that has been offered up to me but by no means the most expensive. A 30p upgrade on the standard scotch version at the home of the Accies.

Presentation: Much like Pie 64, (The Hamilton Accies Pie), this was presented in a tin foil cases and wrapped in a medium sized white napkin. There was no severe heat coming from the aluminium foil which is always a sweet relief when handling a pie presented in this nature. A point of note, something which may be present in all tin foil cases but has so far alluded my eyes, is that in the base of the cases there was 3 small holes pricked in the bottom. No big deal you would think but in actuality this is a rather ingenious way to prevent the pastry steaming and sticking to the bottom of the case, thus ensuring that your pie maintains it’s structural integrity. Something I will certainly be keeping my eye out for in the future.

Meatiness: A steak pie that was from the coarse mince school of luxury as opposed to earning its stripes with meaty chunks or a mixture of both. Personal preference dictates that I love a meaty chunk, the additional texture it provides is always a winner, but the benefit of getting a more mince like consistency within your pastry is that the sauce feels more oozy and generous. It was maybe a spoonful short of being filled to its optimum level but the taste was perfectly pleasant and well seasoned. It was however rather no frills, and although the extra 30p was worth it I was again left with a slightly generic memory of this pie.

Pastry: As is so often the case with a footballing steak pie this had  standard case with a puff pastry top.  The pastry fell apart a bit as I was eating it but that was more due to my appetite cajoling me into taking bites that my mouth clearly could not handle. Whilst the ceiling of the pastry was lovely, soft and flaky it did not mingle in as great as volume as I would have wanted with the gravy inside. Soft pastry kissed with meaty gravy is truly one of life’s pleasures and I felt in this instance I was a little robbed.

Overall: Once again my belly was full and my taste buds were suitably appeased but I felt this was a pie that was lacking in a bit of sparkle and pizzazz, although the discovery of holes in the tin foil is certainly something worth keeping an eye out for.

Gravy Factor: It’s a steak pie at the end of the day, and who doesn’t love a steak pie. Sustainable Gravy.

As the season comes to a close I have to admit to a bit of pie fatigue, it’s a hard thing for one man to write about on a weekly basis but the compliments and words of encouragement from those that read it drive me on to eat more pies. Such a hardship!

Anyway my next pie might taste like silver polish and confetti…..

Until next time go forth and eat pie!

Pie 58: The Auchinleck Talbot Pie

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This pie is in no way affiliated with the fictional team Auchinleck Town..
This pie is in no way affiliated with the fictional team Auchinleck Town.

Welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, my mission to ensure that the mighty pie remains at the forefront of fans mind everywhere when hunger strikes at football grounds across the country. Battling the increasing onslaught by chips, burgers, curries and hotdogs to barge its way to the front of your local refreshment counters. As steeped in footballing tradition as the half-time draw, the busted coupon and jumpers for goalpost the pie is football’s culinary gift to the world and as long as I have breath I will ensure it remains that way. Say ‘Aye to Pie’.

Anyway we have two reviews from Auchinleck to get through in the next few days so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Beechwood Park, Auchinleck Talbot v Pollok, West Superleague Premier Divison

Price: £1.20. That’s right another club who has gone for the junior average of £1.20. I wonder if at the start of the season clubs have a meeting where they decide what the maximum and minimum price of a pie should be. If they do it can I request you to stop doing so and go wild by throwing in a £1.14 or a £1.06 every now and again as it can make for a pretty boring opening to a review unless a rant such as the small one I’ve gone on there takes my fancy. Moving on.

Presentation: A medium-sized white napkin, the classical look most commonly associated with football based meat and pastry parcels.

Meatiness: This was not a scotch pie as anticipated but instead I was greeted with a filling of thick mince and gravy a detour from the loosely formed block of meat you would find in your standard scotch pie. The mince was seasoned very well and the thick gravy that surrounded it caused a playful little dribble to form on my chin the further I delved into its meaty goodness. It was tasty and as such I would have liked a little more of it as on further inspection the fill levels seemed rather shallow when measured against the pastry walls surrounding it. They do however say always leave them wanting more so maybe this is just a clever rouse to get the humble punter to consume yet another meaty morsel so this is but a minor complaint.

My main problem, was one of my own doing. As always with a non-luxury offering I had put a squirt of brown sauce atop of my pie before taking that first bite. With a standard scotch pie you need that squirt of sauce to give that little bit of extra lubrication to help the digestion process and to add another twang of flavour. With a mince and gravy pie the lubrication is already present and as such any brown sauce added could only serve to mask the flavour of the gravy inside. If I’d known I may of refrained from the usual routine, or at least been a little less firm with my routine squeeze.

Pastry: This is where I probably should have realised it wasn’t going to be a normal scotch pie, the tell-tale sign of a puff pastry top often indicates that the filling inside is something not usual in nature. It was flaky and golden on top, whilst the soft layers of pastry underneath almost melted into the meat and gravy below. This wasn’t mind-blowing pastry but a lovely addition to the carnivorous concoction inside. There were a couple of gaps were the filling had leaked through but this only added to the overall presentation and flavour of the pie.

Overall: While the scotch pie is, and should continue to be, the standard-bearer of footballing snackage, this mince and gravy effort is a worthy adversary in the battle for pie supremacy. It was meaty and filled with a lovely gravy topped off with a singular disc of puff pastry. It’s only missing component was that hit of pepper that I so love in scotch pie offerings.

Gravy Factor: Mince and Gravy, and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact there was quite a lot right with it.

Next time out Meat Filled Pastries has a second helping of pie from East Ayrshire as it takes on a new variety, ‘The Onion Pie’.

But until then, go forth and eat pie!

My latest non pie piece ’Pretty in Pink’ is found not only on Leading The Line but also at www.footballbloggingawards.co.uk looking at some of the pinkest kits you’re eyes ever did see and the stories behind them. I also encourage you to look out for my piece ‘Defining World Class’ on the same site, you’ll have to scroll down a bit but it’s definitely worth a read. Something new will be coming soon.

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply go to www.meatfilledpastries.com and hit 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 you are 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, and remember to visit ‘MeatFilledMerch’ for all your pie fashion needs where any personal profit made will go to The Grambler: Kick Cancer’s Backside Fund’ a truly worthwhile cause.