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Lancashire Pork Pie Appreciation Society

Appreciating the best best pork pies Lancashire has to offer

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Pie Rating

Reviews – Mr C’s & Powell’s Pies

While our mission is to find and promote the best pork pies in Lancashire, there’s no point in turning down a good pie from elsewhere. Recently LPPAS have been privileged to sample pies from two outstanding bakers – Mr C’s of Fife and Powell’s of Whitchurch (Shropshire). The pies are different in style from our normal Lancashire pies, which is how it should be. So whilst we would always champion the Lancashire style, what did we make of these pies? In short, both Mr C’s and Powell’s make excellent pies and their enthusiasm and commitment to quality shines through. We’ll look at each in turn:

Mr C’s Pies

Mr C’s supply a wide range of high quality establishments and it was easy to see why. A wide range of pies were sampled: Pork, Pork & Chorizo, Pork & Black Pudding (Piggy Black), Venison, Chicken & Ham, Salmon & Smoked Seafood. As a general comment the quality of the ingredients was very clear. The jelly in particular was amongst the best we’ve tasted. The pastry was thicker than Lancashire style but expertly cooked and very tasty. The pork was Melton Mowbray style and perfectly seasoned. My preference is for plain pork pies but the pork and chorizo and chicken and ham provide good variety for those looking for a bit extra. The venison and smoked salmon & seafood were outstanding pies. The venison had a rich taste and flavour and met expectations. The salmon & smoked seafood exceeded expectations. It was hard to know what to expect from this pie, having never tasted anything like it, but it was a delightful blend of ingredients and of all the pies tasted must take the highest level of skill to balance ingredients to such an effect. Finally the personal favourite on the night was the piggy black pie. This is pork surrounded by black pudding and the overall effect was exquisite. Citizens of Bury, look away now, but the Scottish Black Pudding was as good as anything I’ve tasted and complemented the pork perfectly – a real treat.

Powell’s Pies

In contrast to Mr C’s, Powell Pies do just one thing, but they do it very well. They make pork pies to their traditional family recipe using the best locally sourced ingredients. Again their style is more Melton Mowbray than Lancashire, but nevertheless these are great pork pies. The pastry was again thicker than it would be in Lancs, but nevertheless managed to retain an excellent crispness. The pork had an excellent texture and perfect seasoning and finally the jelly was rich and peppery even if there was room for a little more. All in all excellent pies and it’s great to see local and family traditions upheld in this way.

More details:

Mr C’s Pies: http://www.mrcspies.co.uk

Powell’s Pies: https://www.facebook.com/PowellsPorkPies/

Pie Ratings – Howarth’s, Beech’s & Gigli’s

Monday 7th August saw two LPPAS records broken. With a total of 34 pies and 20 tasters this was the highest number of pies and the highest number of participants. Three good pies were served up all of which achieved LPPAS Recommended status. The winner on the night was Howarth’s of Urmston which just missed out by one mark on Highly Recommended status with an excellent overall score of 74 and moved into fourth place in the jelly category and ninth place overall.

While all the pies were judged positively there was a feeling that no one pie had a perfect balance of pastry, meat and jelly and that if the best of all three were to be combined a top rated pie could have been produced.

A full report will follow but for the moment the ratings for the three pies are shown below:

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Pie Rating – Higginson’s (Grange)

Monday 3rd July proved to be the best night so far in terms of the quality of the two pies tasted. The second pie to be reviewed by the hungry LPPAS members were the pies from Higginson’s of Grange. Although now in Cumbria, Grange is very firmly in the County Palatine of Lancashire. Higginson’s had very kindly donated the pies to us as part of our money raising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support. All were very appreciative of this gesture – more so when they realised the quality of the pies!

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The standard dozen pies were provided for the LPPAS tasters. Despite this being the second pie of the night the hunger of the tasters remained undiminished.  The overall mark of 83% shows these are outstanding pies and puts them, at the time of writing, joint top of our very competitive leader board. In doing so they are comfortably awarded the much coveted ‘LPPAS Highly Recommended’ status.  Here are the scores of the tasters from the night.

 

Higginsons

Let’s look at the characteristics which make this our joint top rated pie. Firstly the overall quality with the excellent score of 83: Here there were a wide range of plaudits. ‘Wow!!’ perhaps summarises it best, with other comments being ‘spot on’, ‘excellent all round’ and ‘beautiful balance between pastry, pork and jelly’.  The marks for the pastry were a high 80 but slightly lower than the marks for overall quality and pork, Most appreciated the at the pastry was ‘crisp and tasty’ but the one small gripe from some was that it was thick in places. No doubt this is in part due to the substantial size and depth of the pie. The pork achieved the top mark of 83. – ‘Well what can I say!’ was one remark with another member saying that the meat had ‘a lovely texture, good colour and impressively smokey’. This time the jelly seemed to be to everyone’s liking. The size of the pie meant there was room for jelly but no scrimping on the meat. The two complemented each other perfectly. The ‘just slightly runny’ consistency of the jelly was well received and in conjuction with the jelly’s clarity and well seasoned flavour it proved a winning combination.

Overall, the Higginson’s Pie is, at the time of writing, joint top in our overall and pork pie rankings and second for both pastry and jelly.  So if you want to taste a top class pie  we strongly recommend you make the journey to sample them for yourselves.

Higginson’s Butchers
Keswick House
Main Street
Grange Over Sands
Cumbria
LA11 6AB

Or use our Pie Finder for directions!

Pie Rating – Wildblood’s (Norden)

Monday 3rd July proved to be the best night so far in terms of the quality of the two pies tasted. First to be reviews by the hungry LPPAS members were the pies from Wildblood’s of Norden. The pies had been baked specially for us on Monday morning (a day when Wildblood’s are normally closed) and once tasting began everyone was very grateful indeed.

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As usual a dozen standard pies were provided for the hungry crowd and at the end of the tasting only Pepsi, the LPPAS dog, was disappointed as there was very little to spare.  The overall mark of 79% is testament to the quality of the pie, comfortably achieving the much coveted ‘LPPAS Highly Recommended’ status, and putting the pie joint 3rd on what is an increasingly tight pork pie leader board. Here are the scores of the tasters from the night.

wildbloods

Let’s look at the characteristics which make this such a highly rated pie. Firstly the overall quality with the excellent score of 79: Here there was general agreement that this was a ‘solid’ pie. ‘Sturdy’ and ‘packed full of meat’ were two of the terms used. The marks for the pastry and the pork were similar at 79 and 80. ‘Just up my street’ was a comment from one of the tasters on the pastry, while another remarked that the pastry was ‘crisp, thin & tasty with an excellent sheen. The pork too was much respected. Delicious and well-seasoned were two comments alongside the remark that he pork was ‘not too spicy’ and there was ‘lots of it!’ Finally the jelly, which once again illustrates how individual preferences can vary. The pie was so full of meat that in some pies there was little room for the jelly. Where there was jelly it was rated very highly with marks as high as 85 and 90%. It can hardly be a criticism that the pie was too full of meat but a little more room for jelly might have seen the pies score higher still amongst our jelly loving tasters.

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Little room for jelly in this meat packed pie!

 

Overall, the Wildblood’s Pie is, at the time of writing, joint third in our overall pie rankings and in the top three for both pastry and pork.  If you haven’t already sample Wilblood’s pies, as a LPPAS Highly Recommended Pie, we strongly recommend you make the journey to sample them for yourselves.

Wildbloods of Norden
836 Edenfield Road
Norden
Rochdale
OL12 7SL

Or use our Pie Finder for directions!

Pie Rating – Trotters (Bury)

Trotter’s Pork Pie wins the award for the most elegant looking pie we have sampled so far. The pastry pig on the lid is a great touch that gives the pie a distinctive look and feel. The name ‘Trotter’s’ also met with the approval of the LPPAS members.

A dozen standard pies were provided for sampling. The pie performed well, achieving ‘LPPAS Recommended Status’. On another night it might have scored higher still, but struggled on the night in comparison to the LPPAS Highly Recommended, and firm favourite, Fraser’s Pie. It should also be mentioned that as Trotter’s is closed on Monday the pies had been in storage since Saturday. Two members that have sampled these pies fresh though that the pastry had lost some of its ‘crunch’ over the weekend. At the end of the tasting no-one was disappointed.

Here are the marks from the 12 tasters for the pie:

Trottersscore

TrottersSo, what are the characteristics of this excellently presented pie? Firstly, the size should be commented on. It is one of the smaller pies that we have sampled. For some this would be ideal, but on the night the majority of tasters would have preferred a slightly larger version. Members were split on their overall description. ‘A cute looking, nice pie’ was one comment, supported by others that found the pie ‘enjoyable’ and ‘very good and tasty’. Other members were a little harsher – describing the pie as ‘average’. A comment that in part is testament to the quality of the pies that we have sampled so far this year.

The pork itself was the strongest feature of the pie. With an average mark of 69% this just missed the Highly Recommended level. ‘Firm’, ‘good texture and flavour’ and ‘well-seasoned’ were typical comments here with only one taster awarding a mark below 65%. In fact there were several positive comments about the seasoning – a factor that even in the top scoring pies is often the subject of negative comment.

The pastry achieved a mark of 60%. Here it was felt that the pastry ‘lacked crispness’ and some felt it was ‘soggy’. There was no doubt that the pastry didn’t score as well as expected. How much this was due to its period in storage is open to question – but there’s no doubt it would have been fairer to sample the pie on the day of purchase.

Finally, to the jelly. Here there were some negative comments but these related to quantity rather than quality. In smaller, well filled, pies such as this one there is little room for jelly. Those that did comment on the flavour remarked that the jelly was ‘excellent’ and ‘nice and tasty’.

Overall, the Trotter’s Pork Pie makes the grade as an LPPAS Recommended Pie. With its appearance and the quality of the pork it is best described as an enjoyable pie. If you are in the area, why not call in to what is an excellent butchers for a sample?

Trotters 
86 Walshaw Road
Bury
Lancashire
BL8 1NX
Or use our Pie Finder for directions!

 

Pie Rating – Frasers (Bolton)

There was much anticipation as the members of LPPAS impatiently waited for the Fraser’s Pork Pies to be served. For many LPPAS members Fraser’s pork pies have been a long-standing favourite and those that had yet to taste them were expecting something special. Ideally tasting would be done ‘blind’ to remove any possible bias. Although, this wasn’t possible for such a well-known pie, the tasters gave their opinions in their usual professional manner.

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A dozen standard pies were provided for the hungry crowd with the generous addition of 2 large pies to ensure that an elegant sufficiency was provided. At the end of the tasting no-one was disappointed.  The overall mark of 79% is testament to the quality of the pie, comfortably achieving the much coveted ‘LPPAS Highly Recommended’ status. Here are the marks of the 13 tasters for the pie:

Fraser’s Standard Pie Taster
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Total
Overall Quality 80 75 72 80 80 85 85 80 80 80 80 75 75 79
Pastry 80 65 70 70 80 90 85 80 80 70 80 75 70 77
Pork 80 70 70 70 75 85 85 80 80 70 80 75 80 77
Jelly 80 65 70 65 70 85 90 80 60 80 75 60 73

So, what are the reason that this pie has such a reputation and is rated so highly? Firstly, the overall quality is considered. One member described the pie as having an ‘exquisite balance’ between the holy trinity of pastry, meat & jelly. Comments were also made on the ‘fulsome’ and ‘well-filled’ quality of the pie. The speed at which the pies were consumed spoke silently of the taste and texture of the pies.

Frasers3Next, each of the constituent parts are considered. Of the three, the jelly scored the lowest score, with a still excellent 73%. The jelly would have scored higher still were it not for another characteristic of the pie. Paradoxically the ‘fulsome’ quality of the pie meant that in some of the pies there was comparatively little jelly. Those pies in which there was room  were particularly well-jellied with one member opining that despite it being a ‘packed pie, it had jelly in all the right places.

The pastry and pork were both awarded excellent averages of 77%. The pastry was described as ‘nicely baked, good colour, with crispy pastry just to my taste’. ‘Thin and crispy’ describing well the elusive quality of top class pastry. The pork itself was a smooth and uniformly pink. The comments ‘nicely spiced with a great texture’ and ‘lean, tasty and moist’ captures the consensus well.

Finally, comment should be made on the large pies. Formal scoring is now only conducted on the standard pies. The large pie was extremely well received. If there was a scoring system for the larger pies, there is little doubt that this would be our top-rated pie in that category.

Overall, the Fraser’s Standard Pie is in the top 3 for all of our four categories.  If you haven’t already sample Fraser’s pies as a LPPAS Highly Recommended Pie we recommend you make the journey to sample them for yourselves.

Fraser’s Butchers
272 Rishton Lane
Bolton
Lancashire
BL3 2EH

Or use our Pie Finder for directions!

 

 

A New Leader: Walmsley’s of Ramsbottom

LPPAS Event Report 3rd April 2017

As has been said before on these pages, the great Spanish author Cervantes claimed that ‘hunger is the best sauce’. Some 500 years after he first coined the phrase, events at The Black Bull conspired to reinforce Cervantes’ enduring wisdom. Inexplicably, there had been a breakdown in procurement from West Lancashire, which meant pork pies from just one supplier were to be sampled. Although alternatives such as quiche and spring rolls were offered, these were received as thin gruel by the pie hungry crowd. Fortunately though, the supplier from Ramsbottom, Walmsley’s Butchers, is clearly a monarch of his profession and the pies sampled were agreed by all to be top class.

Walmsleys2A full report of Walmsley’s Pork Pie will follow. But the headline is that it goes straight to the top of the charts, just overtaking Pitt’s of Earby for first place overall. Not only that, but the pie goes to the top of the pastry and pork charts too, missing out on first place in the jelly chart to Pitt’s masterly pie.

The results are shown below, for what one of our taster’s described as a ‘Ronaldo of the Pie world’:

Walmsley’s Standard Pie

Taster

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Overall Quality 85 78 80 78 80 96 88 80 83
Pastry 90 76 75 85 70 90 85 75 81
Pork 85 70 70 83 80 92 90 85 82
Jelly 80 60 75 65 80 97 90 80 78

 

Walmsley’s butchers can be found at:

31 Bridge Street, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AD

Walmsley’s Butchers Facebook Page

Use our Pie Finder for directions

 

LPPAS Pie Charts

 

Below are the current lists of our top five rated pork pies so far this year. At the end of the year we will award the Bird’s Pie Shop Memorial Trophy to the highest overall rated pie of the year. Prizes will also be awarded to the pies adjudged to have the best pastry, best pork and best jelly. The list is up to date on the 19th March 2017. There are some very high rated pies already, but there are plenty more to be tasted by the end of the year.

Best Overall Pork Pie

OverallChart

Best Pastry

PastryChart

Best Pork

PorkChart

Best Jelly

JellyChart

Pitts of Earby – A Masterly Pie

On outward appearance alone, the standard pork pie made by Pitt’s of Earby looked nothing special. Its price tag of just 90p seemed to further confirm its modesty. The pastry looked pale for some tastes too, although the copious jelly on top sharpened the appetite of others. As the saying goes though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. By the time the LPPAS tasters had greedily finished the 12 sample pies there was unanimous agreement that this was indeed a masterly pie. Although it was still only March, and there are many more pies to sample before the champion pie is crowned at the end of the year, the overall mark of 81% for the pie currently puts it firmly top of the pack. It will take a special pie to dislodge it. Here are the marks of the 14 tasters for the pie:

PittsMarks

So what where the reasons why this pie was rated so highly? The first reason was succinctly summarised by one taster who remarked ‘Great overall mix of filling, pastry and jelly.’ The three elements seemed to blend together so that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

Pitts2Each of the constituent parts were excellent in their own right though. Of the three, the pastry scored the lowest score, with a still excellent 73%. ‘Delicate, but firm in texture’ was one comment and others agreed that there was an excellent taste to the pastry. The slightly lower score for the pastry than for the jelly was down to those tasters that would have preferred the pastry a little ‘shorter’ – to give the pie a bit of extra crunch.

The pork itself was uniformly pink and with an excellent flavour. The remark that the pork had ‘perfect flavour, texture and appearance’ was widely agreed with. Often tasters seem to ask for more seasoning, but there was none of this for this pie, as one expert put it the ‘pork had an unexpected kick at the end’ No pies is to everybody’s taste though – the only negative comment (if it could be seen as that) was that the pork ‘did the job, but wasn’t a scene stealer.

Lastly to the jelly. It’s fair to say that LPPAS members seem to like their jelly. The outstanding score of 84% for the jelly indicates how satisfied they were with this aspect of the pie. ‘The epitome of a well-jellied pie’ captured the mood, while other comments included  ‘tasty, and lots of it’; ‘perfect’ and ‘spot on!’

All in all the pie richly the deserved the ultimate pie accolade of being a ‘masterly pie’. The fact that it retails at a paltry 90p guarantees that no Lancastrian of taste will be disappointed if they make the journey to Pitts at:

Pitts Butchers Ltd
17 Victoria Road,
Earby,
Barnoldswick,
Lancashire, BB18 6UN.

Or use our Pie Finder for directions!

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