Pie Week 2012: Pie- a social meal by design- Guest post by Michael Partridge

It’s British Pie Week and it’s Friday so I thought you might like some light entertainment in the form of a guest post from pie lover Michael Partridge. You can follow Michael on Twitter if you want to discuss your love for pies.

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Hello there, my name is Michael and I’ve decided to write about pies!  Some people, when given an opportunity to write about any food stuff would automatically go to a favourite recipe, a great place to eat…but I was asked to write about pies.  There is no escaping it, pie’s are a social meal in my life. There is some sense to this statement, but it requires a little back story…

 

Some years back, I was living in a shared house that was very close to a large supermarket on Cryws Road.  This nameless large supermarket was notorious for good deals on all sorts of “EAT ME TODAY” produce.  There was some debate about the best time to get the best deals, go in around 8ish, smaller savings, larger choice or take the risk and head in after 9 for massive savings and a real lucky dip approach to your shopping.  It wasn’t uncommon for my housemates or me to return with an eclectic bag full.  My personal favourite remains:

 

Jam doughnuts (10p for 5)

2 pints of milk (20p)

Big bag of carrots (15p)

Cat food (£1.50 instead of £4).

 

Bakery produce was always reduced, there was always something worth getting and sharing that would normally come in under 50p.  On one occasion, my housemate returned home with his shopping and an apple pie. “Apple pie anyone? It was only 20p.” A debate was had about the perfect way to eat apple pie, we agreed on piping hot with ice cream. However, we didn’t have any ice cream, “There’s choc ice’s?” and thus the institution was born. Pie with a choc ice. Seriously, its incredible.  If you doubt me, oh how I pity you! You are missing out.

 

If any of us went to the supermarket and saw pies going cheap, one was bought, taken home and everyone in the house (often more than the 3 residents) would come together in the living room for pie and choc ice.  The supermarket pies were big enough for 8 people (or 4 greedy buggers), spending under £1 cheap pie and value choc ice’s was outweighed by the bonding over pie eating.

 

A few houses later, I had really taken to the kitchen and started to feel braver, so started to experiment making my own pies. I had never made pastry from scratch before, but I quickly discovered that the recipes I found were more of a guide than a precision formula, and the amount of effort required to make enough pastry for a 2 person pie isn’t a great deal different to a 4 person pie. It’s exactly the same with fillings!

 

After my first attempt, I realised that it made sense to invite people round for dinner to enjoy the fresh out of the oven pie, because it just isn’t as nice warmed up.  It is also amazing the effect this statement has on people…

 

“Do you want to come round for dinner tonight?”

 

Pause, whilst they think….

 

“I’m making pie…”

 

“Can I bring my girlfriend as well?”

 

My original plan of dinner for 2-3 often became 3-5…and the social eating continues.  People are drawn to quality home cooked food like moths to a flame and the offer of a tasty hand made pie with a hearty helping of mash, peas and gravy will have your friends beating your door down.

 

I am grateful that I now have a reputation as a man who makes good pies. If I need a favour, I use the line, “If you help me…there could be pie in your future.” It very rarely fails.  It still comes back to a group of people eating pies!  However you look at it, if I’m making pie, I’m cooking for at least 4, so you might as well make the most of it!

 

Favourite fillings:

 

Steak and chorizo. Add some onion and finely chopped spinach to the mix and you are in heaven!

 

Lamb and mint.  Fresh mint is the key, and don’t be afraid to use plenty.

 

Sun-dried tomato, olive and feta. Again some friend onion and spinach really make this something special.

 

Chicken, sun-dried tomato and extra mature cheese. Fried onion is a must, add the other elements with some grated cheese and big chunks as well!

 

Useful advice.

 

Cooking:

 

Pastry first. Work to a recipe the first few times, then start winging it.  I always get my dough to the right consistency and then cling film it and put it in the fridge whilst I concentrate on fillings.

 

Filling. Don’t be afraid to do the majority of the cooking outside the pie! I prefer it as I feel I can control everything more closely.

 

A cake/pie tin that has a clasp/release so you can get it out easily. Trust me, it’s far more satisfy to see a finished article and cut into it.

 

Sides:

 

I am all about adding to the basics. If we are having pie, mash and gravy, I will always add a little something extra!

Mash with spring onions, blue cheese and milk instead of butter is incredible. I cheat with gravy and use instant all the time, but adding some extra love, makes a world of difference. Fry up some red onion, as soon as it goes soft add a few spoons of brown sugar, once the sugar has caramelised pour on some boiling water, then add some instant gravy. World of difference.

 

In conclusion…

 

Make it all yourself, fill  your house with the smell of great meals being cooked, fill your house with friends and be happy (and full) together.