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Pie 147: The Rangers “Chicken & Chorizo” Pie

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Hello it’s not only time for another pie review but it’s also time for another pie of the month from the house that staunch built, Ibrox Stadium. When I turned up at Ibrox on Armed Forces Day I had told myself that no pies would be passing my lips as I had been well and truly burned out by not only the price but also the quality of pastries in Glasgow’s big three grounds over the years.

This came to a head at Hampden the other week. I had first reviewed the Hampden Steak Pie a long time ago now. In fact it was one of the very first pies I reviewed and it seemed to do OK under scrutiny however since then I have been subjected to a number of overpriced travesties with a particular shout out to the Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie – still possibly the worst pie to ever pass my lips. My last Steak Pie at Hampden though was quite frankly taking the piss.

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At £2.90 this…this thing(!) masquerading as food has almost certainly forever left me scarred in regards to the catering efforts at the current – and now future home – of Scottish football. The pastry was welded to the case so hard that I could turn it upside down without fear of it falling out. The lid came clean off and the filling was so sparse and dry I can only assume that when this was made that is was not so much as baked but chewed up and spat out into it’s pastry shell. It was an absolute liberty, and I hope when that whatever the renovated Hampden ends up looking like that a new catering contract with somebody who actually gives a f*ck about what they’re producing is dished out.

It made me proper angry and with it’s memory still scratched across my taste buds I turned up at Ibrox knowing that it was highly unlikely that I would be purchasing a pie, and I love pies! But then it happened. I fell into their trap. A new Pie of the Month was there to be had and so with some reluctance I cleaned out my savings and purchased, what was a promising sounding, Chicken & Chorizo Pie. Did I make the right decision though?

Without much further ado let’s rate some pie.

Where: Ibrox Stadium, Rangers 5-1 St. Johnstone, Scottish Premiership

Price: It was £3.50. I’ve already ranted about the price of pies at the top table of Scottish football in this post and many times before so I think you know my feelings on this by now.

Presentation: Having had August’s pie of the month – The Rangers Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie – I was struck with how this month’s edition looked exactly the same presented as it was in a round aluminium tin and on a fairly large white napkin. Before I attempted a first bite things were actually looking pretty good.

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Meatiness: There’s no hiding it, the filling of this pie looked like spew. It was that off white colour that years of television vomits has told us a right good whitey should be. There were some small chunks of chicken accompanied by smaller studs of chorizo sitting in a very thick paste-come-sauce. To be fair it actually smelled pretty good but given its appearance as the lid of the pie came clean off when I ventured to take my first bite (more on that shortly) I found myself debating whether or not I really wanted to dive in. A feeling that I sensed was being felt by the person sitting diagonally behind me as I tried to figure out what was going on inside this pastry.

Continuing with the flavours and I would challenge anyone to add chorizo to something and not manage to draw some kind of flavour out of the final culinary masterpiece. In this instance it was the saving grace as at one point I genuinely had to check that the chunks of white in the pie were indeed chicken due to the paucity of flavour they provided. It was also a little heavy handed on the salt meaning that somehow the final result was a filling that tasted of everything and nothing all at the same time.

 

Pastry: An anaemic looking disaster. The base so raw that it not only stuck to the bottom of the tin but that it could also be rolled up into wee balls between your thumb and index finger. Once mashed in with the paste masquerading as gravy it was not good. Whilst under baked pastry is a common fault the way in which the lid of my pastry came clean off was a novelty I hadn’t yet experienced. I’m not talking a little loose either, I’m talking about the fact the two parts were never stuck together in the first place. Whilst this would go down like a lead balloon in pie judging circles I was strangely grateful as it meant I had a full disc of pastry to try and spoon the filling out with. A relief given it was impossible to lift the thing from it’s shiny shell.

Brown Sauce: I think brown sauce would’ve actually made this pie even weirder.

Overall: A marketing masterstroke for a mug pie punter like me – yes. A tasty pie – afraid not.

Gravy Factor: Sigh.

I genuinely want to know what kind of checks gets done by these large scale event caterers on the day of the match because if they check some of the riots that I’ve mentioned in this post and say that they are good then clearly I’m in the wrong business.

Anyway I have another pie review lined up for next time from Ayrshire junior side Kilwinning Rangers and their eponymous “Buffs Pie”. Until then though, 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 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.

Pie 70: The Raith Rovers ‘Steak’ Pie

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Hello and here we are once again ready to delve headfirst into another meaty morsel. It’s the second of two reviews from Starks Park home of Raith Rovers and Meat Filled Pastries first step into the luxury market this season.

The consumption of multiple pies at one venue is something that will be far less common this season, with this ritual being reserved for places where I am really unlikely to be visiting again, not due to disdain for my visit but due to the distances involved. Being based in Glasgow means that there is a plethora of clubs within an hours drive of home and so restricting myself to one pie at these venues will not only help my waistline but also ensure I will never run out of pies to review. Well that’s the theory anyway.

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

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Starks Park, Raith Rovers v St Johnstone, Pre Season Friendly. Entry Fee £10. Programme £1.50.

A Good Old Fashioned Looking Main Stand
A Good Old Fashioned Looking Main Stand

Price: At £2 this was 20p more expensive than the scotch pie offering from Kirkcaldy but given some of the prices that were flung at me when down south over the summer for luxury pies this seemed a relative bargain. I think by season end this will turn out to be one of the cheaper luxury pies to pass my lips.

Presentation: Unlike most steak pies this did not come with an aluminium foil cae wrapped around it instead trusting the structural integrity of the pie itself to hold firm once the first bite was taken. As is the case in the majority of pies this was served with a medium-sized white napkin.

THE PIE

Luxury awaits...
Luxury awaits…

Meatiness: Before I get into the meat of this pie matter a wee reminder that a luxury pie should be untainted and such none of the acetic brown sauce that nearly obliterated my scotch pie at Starks Park will be present on this pastry. Luxury comes at a premium price and with that comes greater scrutiny, the pie alone should provide all the flavour you need. So how flavoursome was this pie? It was not bad, not bad at all. First of all as football pies goes it was a generous handful, the meat was in large chunks but had a good mouth feel, coming apart as you bit off the tender strands of steak. It was seasoned well enough to give a strong savoury flavour although it lacked a little depth. Part of this could have been caused by the pie being a touch on the cool side. I also noticed that although there wasn’t a great deal of gravy within I at no point felt that the pie was dry which is once again testament to the precisely measured time it would have spent in the oven. This was a solid effort, perhaps a few tweaks short of something special but not a pie-saster by any means.

Pastry: As previously mentioned there was no tinfoil case to support this pie and as such that burden fell on the pastry something that it coped with more than admirably. The sides were slightly thicker than you would usually have on a pie but this meant that you could take a good-sized bite without worrying that your pie filling well end up splattered on the terrace floor below your feet. It had a puff pastry top which flaked as it should and although not particularly buttery or flavoursome it provided a suitable accompaniment to the pies meaty interior.

Overall: A solid if unspectacular start to the 2014/15 luxury market, it was a large pie with large meaty chucks and a substantial pastry case. Won’t be the best of the season I’m sure but certainly won’t be the worst.

Gravy Factor: Sturdy Gravy.

So that’s two reviews down and I feel I’m getting back into the swing of things. Next stop, Wishaw, and a return to Meat Filled Pastries spiritual home, junior football. Planning to cover UEFA’s week of football concept at some point over the weekend but until next time…..Go Forth and Eat Pie!

Remember to follow Meat Filled Pastries on twitter @MFPTasty and for any enquiries or feedback, and a thank you to those who have already, you can email meatfilledpastries@hotmail.com.

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!