There are few things I love more than pie and I mean few (I’m just going to leave that one lingering) and it seems I’m not the only lady who loves to dig deep into a hearty, moist pie. A survey from Asda published last month found that four in ten woman eat pie each month compared to only two in ten males. Take from that what you will.
Some people in high places somehow found out about my love of pie and invited me to the ultimate: an evening of pie. The event was held at Asda headquarters, Leeds and was an opportunity for bloggers to find out how Asda develop their pie recipes and then manufacture them on a large scale. On the agenda was a chat from the Asda pie team (yes, a team dedicated to pie), a cooking demonstration, some booze, a tour and even a baking challenge. It was the stuff of stuffed pastry dreams.
First we were introduced to the concept of recipe development and shown on a smallscale how to make one of the supermarkets’ new season pies the Ultimate Steak and Ale Pie. We were shown how the chefs make it in the kitchen and also told how to make it in the factory and I was surprised to learn that many tasks are still done by hand. I was also introduced to the concept of tumbling – putting corn starch around your meat to keep it moist. Another interesting tip imparted by the chief of pies was to cook your steak in half of your ale and add the rest of the ale once your gravy is formed, hereby giving more of a depth of flavour. Here’s a photo of the pie chief putting my crimping skills to shame.
Later in the evening, when the pies were ready, we got to sample them straight from the oven alongside real ale from the brewery where the pie’s boozy ingredient comes from. I really don’t like ale, but the pale ale from Joules (not the one pictured below) which we were also given the opportunity to sample was actually really nice. Light (as you’d expect), but still fragrant. Another thing I picked up on the evening was the concept of adding texture to the glaze of your pie. The Asda chefs sprinkled the top of their pies with oats, which inspired me to embellish my own pie when it came to the pie-off.
So, what’s a pie-off? Well, it turns out it’s a lot like Ready Steady Cook, or the invention round of Masterchef but solely pie-centric. My fellow bloggers and I were paired up and presented with a choice of ingredients to use from and asked to invent a pie of our own and let loose in the Asda kitchens. I was paired with a lovely member of Asda staff as there was an odd number of bloggers and she was kind enough to act as my sous chef (which mainly involved reassuring me when it looked like my pie was going crust up). I decided to make a version of my Pizza Pie by cooking chorizo directly into a tomato and red pepper sauce and layering it with spinach and a mix of cheese, onion and egg. This made for a really rich tricolore pie. Into my sauce went onion, fresh basil, garlic and diced chorizo, along with some sweet red peppers I roasted in the oven. Here it is on the assembly line.
As is fairly typical of my cooking, I made far too much mixture and actually ended up baking two pies, on with a puff pastry top and one entirely shortcrust. The pastry was readymade, but the crimping and glazing were down to me. I decided to add some black pepper to the top of one of my pies, inspired by the earlier chef’s showcase. Here I am in action:
When all of the pies were cooked we sat down to sample them all, alongside some gravy, tasty roasted veg and tatos. Comfort food heaven.