Thursday, November 24, 2005

As "Easy" as "Pie"

Tony makes a very good point:

Then after your food is coated in sauce STOP squeezing before you turn the bottle upright. It is as easy as pie. (Apparently pie is easy.)

Pie is certainly not easy, but it is delicious, if it is done correctly. The best pie is, of course, meat pie. (If any vegans are reading this post, I feel your pain; I really do - now can you please bugger off and read some other post?). But something so simple as meat pie can be so difficult to do correctly.

Firstly, where should you get your meat pie from? Supermarket pie is to be avoided: even the best supermarket pies come with their delicious meaty gravy frozen, which takes something out of their freshness. Furthemore, getting the pies in proper edible condition is a lengthy, difficult, and sometimes costly process, and many catastrophes must be avoided.
7/11 pies are cheap, but often poorly made. The crust is moist and doughy (on the matter of the proper crust, read on); and the mince has the same consistency and taste of sludge. Furthermore, they are often either too hot, or too cold.
Gourmet pies have something to say for them, but it can be hard to find a good one. Some are exceedingly expensive (pies are a good meal for a working person, so if you need more than two gold coins to pay for them, they're probably not worth it.) Worse, many 'gourmet' pie cooks defer to the disgusting tastes of their upper-class clientelle. Pies should never have more than three vegetables in them, and any pie containing cheese should be avoided.
On the whole, the best pies are bakery pies. But even here, it's best to be careful: some bakeries reheat their pies in the microwave, leading to sogginess, and pies that are often too hot or cold (and often both at once). Others, although they heat their pies in the proper manner, neverthless purchase them from a pie manufacturer, instead of lovingly crafting the pies themselves.
Finding the 'right' sort of pie bakery is in fact an art in itself, and can take a lifetime of training.

The next matter is the crust. What sort of crust should a pie have? Some say a pie crust should be flaky; some say that it should be fleshy and moist. I incline to the flaky school myself, although a pie should not be 'overflaky'. The result is messy and often very itchy. Furthermore, some pie cooks, in their zeal to achieve a perfect 'flakiness', can burn the pie. This should be avoided.
Readers should, of course, experiment until they find the perfect amount of 'flakiness' for themselves; but they should remember that flakiness should enhance the flavour of the crust, not detract from it.

Temperature is another important matter. How hot is the perfect pie? Again, it is very much a matter of finding the right medium. A pie should not be cool, tepid, lukewarm, or warm; rather, the correct pie temperature lies somewhere in between fairly hot and piping hot. If the pie is merely 'fairly hot', then it tends to become lukewarm by the time it is eaten. However, if the pie is 'piping hot', then it cannot be held in the hand and eaten. This, of course, is the only way to eat a pie: those people who eat pies with knives and forks are cretins, and should be shot.
It should also be added that a 'piping hot' pie, once the eater has balanced it in his hand, has a tendency to gush hot gravy all over the eaters hand: painful, and unecessary.
(The matter of gush will, perhaps, be taken up in a later post.)

Now; what are the correct ingredients of the perfect pie? In fact, there may be no correct answer to this question. I hold to the rule that, so long as there is 75% to 100% meat in the pie, then the actual ingredients do not matter so much. If a pie has less than the requisite amount of meat, then I contend that what you have is not a pie, but a misshapen pastie.
Here is a brief list of possible pie ingredients:

- Chicken

- Chicken and mushroom

- Beef

- Beef and mushroom

- Chicken and carrot

- Pork

- Beef and Bourgundy

(Sweet 'Fruit pies' also have something to say for them. They may be eaten cold, and indeed make an excellent snack between two of the most important meals of the day, breakfast and brunch. But that is another subject entirely.)*
Pies with cheese should never be eaten. It is an insult to cheese, and an insult to meat.

What sauce should you put on the top of your pie? Certainly not barbeque sauce; as Tony quite rightly points out, it is a 'ghastly affair' and whoever invented it 'needs working on'.
Tomato sauce, of course, is the correct condiment; but what type of tomato sauce? Again, this is not a subject on which I am certain, and maybe I should open up the comments box for a poll:

a) Homemade Tomato sauce
b) Homebrand Tomato sauce
c) Rosella Tomato sauce
d) Some other variety of tomato sauce? (Industrial American-style ketchup, perhaps?)

Pies are a wonderful meal, and should be eaten often and frequently. If you are in any of the following areas, I can recommend these pie shops:

New Lambton Pies, New Lambton Road, New Lambton, NSW
Harry's Cafe de Wheels, Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW
The Bakery, Bay Street, Port Melbourne, Victoria.
Various pie shops in Coburg and Brunswick, Victoria.

Anyone else got a favourite pie shops?

* As an interesting anthropological footnote, I should add that my friend David has apparently discovered an amazing store which sells canned pies. I can't, of course, endorse such a radical departure from the pie-norm, but one shouldn't deny it before one tries it.


TimT said...

... maybe I should open up the comments box for a poll ...

The results will be plotted on a pie-chart. )

*Ducks for cover*

David said...

The tinned pie - the Fray Bentos - is made by Campbells at their world-famous processing plant in Shepparton, Victoria. It provides some unique eating - crustless and baseless, the pie is gravy, meat, and either mushrooms or kidney topped with a sheet of puff pastry. The actual cooking process is a dicey affair, with a few minutes on either side of the 25 minute mark spelling out disaster - likewise with straying from the 230'C temperature setting. But, when handled by a master, they are truly fabulous. Unfortunately, they contain enough fat to kill a water buffalo - which becomes incredibly obvious when you pull the tray out of the oven, and several gallons of red-hot oil spills over your arms. The trays are very hard to clean, also, as they become caked with dried, white lard.

Mmmm. Now, THAT'S what I call some tender eating.

TimT said...

Ah, it sounds like an industrial version of the classic home-made pan-pie (a stew with a simple egg/flour/milk pastry cover).

Home-made pies are another subject entirely, and an entirely delicious subject, too, I might add.

My answer for the poll? Rosella sauce, but then again, homemade tomato sauce can be quite delicious too. I don't think it's quite right for pies, though. Pies aren't a subtle food.

Bozwell said...

I can highly recomend the pies made at the "Millhouse Bakery" on St Georges Road...

And this is where I have to disagree with the cheese/meat combo issue...

Their steak-cheese-tomato pies are delicious!!!!

TimT said...

I can't believe I'm hearing this! On my very own blog!

Cheese is to be confined to pizzas, sandwiches (toasted or raw), or eaten on it's own. Hasn't Homer taught you anything? "Mmmmm!!!! 101 slices of unprocessed cheese."

CB said...

As far asvconventional pie-ology goes,pies bought at corner shops are either pie warmed Four n Twenties or Mrs Macs.
Anything else is lips and assholes ground into a doughy crust.Just not on, issit?

TimT said...

I dunno, CB. The trouble with some corner stores is they rewarm their pies up in the microwave. I still reckon the bakery is the best option.

Angie said...

Hello guys, wonder if you can help. I work for a distributor and one of my customers has asked if I can source a Fray Bentos Chicken Curry pie!!!

I know, its odd, but thats my job and I have to live with it!

In your travels and obvious extensive knowledge of the Pie world, can you direct me to a possible source?

Yours hopefully

viagra online said...

There are many idiomatic expression in the English language. This one for reminds me of another idiom related to food "a piece of cake" and "as fresh as a cucumber" or "do not spill the beans"

Email: timhtrain - at -

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