A Crust Above
Pies have been around for centuries, and they remain an icon of British cuisine.
Described by the British Pie Awards as ‘a filling wholly encased in pastry and baked’, pies are something us Brits just can’t seem to get enough of and we spend more than £1 billion every year on them, according to Mintel.
“Who doesn’t love a pie? Ranging from a top quality pork pie through to the baked slice on the high street, they are one of the most versatile and easy to eat dishes out there,” said Darren Chapman, Nestlé Professional business development chef. “They can be eaten on the go as a hand held snack, served with a rich thick gravy or even as an on-trend clanger.”
British Pie Week (4-10 March) gives operators the opportunity to position this national favourite at the top of their menu.
Keep it traditional
Pies are one of the most popular pub dishes, and you won’t go wrong if you stick with a traditional filling. Served with mash or chips, peas or beans, the winning flavours continue to be steak and ale, meat and potato, chicken and mushroom, and the humble pork pie. The Black Lion in Firbeck, Yorkshire, a 50-seater pub, serves at least 70 steak and ale pies (see recipe) a week. “It’s our top selling pie – the customers love it,” said Billy Frost, head chef. “We always serve it with triple cooked chips but alternate the side per season; soon we’ll be switching our roasted veg to buttered spring greens.”
With no flavours out of bounds why not mix it up and experiment with your pie offering? Think about different pastry to use and create flavour fillings to suit an event. For example, an oriental duck pie with Chinese five spice would be perfect for Chinese New Year or bake a lamb pie for Easter.
Make sure you have at least one pie on your menu that caters for vegetarians and those who follow a gluten-free diet. In last year’s British Pie Awards MYPIE won the vegetarian category for its sweet potato, fennel and goat’s cheese pie. Make sure not only the pastry is gluten free but the ingredients and gravy inside are too. Customers wanting a lighter or healthier option should also be taken into consideration. It may go against the grain, but only having pastry on top and using puff instead of shortcrust will reduce the saturated fat and calories per portion.
Raise your profits by:
• Running a midweek pie and pint night
• Having a pie of the week or month
• Pairing your pie offering with an event
• Offering a pie to go
• Having a lunchtime deal
Hot water crust pastry is the most difficult to make – but essential for strength in pies such as the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
Puff pastry is becoming much more common for gourmet savoury pies
Shortcrust is generally preferred for sweet, dessert pies
Source: Matthew O’Callaghan, British Pie Awards event organizer and Chair of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association