The ultimate comfort food; pies are one of those delicious, wholesome meals that can turn a bad day into a good day with every bite.
"That’s the beauty of a pie – you can really experiment with flavours"
To help celebrate British Pie Week 2018, we spoke to head of bakery at Pukka Pies, Phil Smith who told us a thing or two about what makes the perfect pie...
What makes the perfect pie?
According to Phil, the perfect pie will have a golden pastry, be bursting with flavour and use good quality meat.
“This really is something everyone will have a different opinion on. What’s so great about a pie is how versatile you can be with the flavours so there is something for everyone. For us at Pukka Pies, quality makes all the difference – good quality chunky meat, flavoursome, rich gravies and light flaky pastry…it’s the perfect combination. If you get the basic ingredients right, with a bit of love you can’t go wrong."
Should the filling be spilling over the edges?
"A good pie should have strong pastry keeping everything tightly packed in so there’s no need for the filling to spill over the edge. There’s nothing quite like the moment you cut into a pie and the filling oozes out on to your plate."
What ratios work best in pies?
"Different fillings work in different ratios – dependent on whether you have a sauce or a gravy or vegetables…the important thing is that the pie is packed full and packed with flavour."
What pastry is best to use in a meat or vegetable pie?
"Puff pastry works well for both. At the Pukka bakery, we find the key thing is to make sure it’s really light so we make ours with over 100 layers of pastry, so it has a lovely rise on top and is extra crispy."
What common pairings work well for pies?
"Our first ever Pukka Pie, sold way back in 1963, was Steak and Kidney which is of course a classic pairing.
"Steak and Ale, and Steak and Onion are also both great combinations. Our Chicken and Mushroom is incredibly popular but we know some people just aren’t a big fan of mushrooms so we released a Chicken and Gravy which works brilliantly as well."
Are there any more slightly unusual pairings?
"That’s the beauty of a pie – you can really experiment with flavours. One of our best-selling Pukka Pies in football stadiums is the Chicken Balti. It sounds so unexpected but once you try it you fall in love with it!"
When is a pie not a pie?
"I’m a traditionalist, so if it doesn’t have a pastry case I’d say that it's not a pie, but there are plenty of people that would disagree with me!"