Fray Bentos the iconic pie brand and favourite pie maker to actor Sean Bean, are introducing the Vegetable Balti pie, filled with potato, onion, red pepper, tomato, carrot and peas in a spicy balti sauce. I can't wait.
This week we've been sampling game sausages, sausage rolls and pies sent to us from new food producer Wild and Game. They are a new not-for profit food business aiming to turn us into a nation of game eaters. I'm not sure if there's much converting to do here in East Anglia, where we eat a lot of wild meat, but the game goodies will be available online to pubs, restaurants, small shops and the general public, so great for those that find it hard to visit a decent butcher. "We're keen to make game more prominent in the UK diet", says Steven Frampton, who runs the business with Michael Cannon. Products are supplied frozen and available all year round. Our box arrived on the hottest day of the year, tightly packed in ice, still frozen solid after an overnight delivery. Best of the products we tasted were the sausages, including the pheasant and pear, pheasant and venison and pheasant and white wine. All were a big hit with Mr SuffolkFoodie and notably very good eaten cold the next day. Keep an eye out for their new products. Pheasant Lasagne anyone?
- beautifully packed in ice, arriving frozen
- enormous pasties
- pheasant meat sausage rolls
- 70% meat content sausages
- pheasant and venison sausages
May 13th. Today's the day, my dear old Dad would say to make a rook pie. How I miss him.
Pork pies are much easier to make than you might imagine. Just a little time needed to prepare the filling and the pastry and some patience required with the crimping and sealing of the pies.
750g of very good sausage meat
750g of pork shoulder (finely diced or quickly chopped in a food processor)
100g smoked streaky bacon (finely diced)
a handful of chopped fresh herbs. I used sage, parsely and oregano
two large pinches salt and a very generous few grinds of black pepper
Mix all this together very well in a mixing bowl and set aside.
1kg plain flour
1 tsp salt
4 medium eggs
1 beaten egg for glazing and sealing the pies.
Heat the water in a saucepan with the lard and butter until melted, gently, it needn't boil. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. I used my Kenwood mixer with dough hook and making a well in the middle add the beaten eggs. Start mixing and slowly add the water and fat mixture until you have a smooth and soft dough. Add more flour or warm water to get smooth soft dough. Cover and chill for about 1 hr.
Using a deep muffin tray grease well and line with rolled out pastry with some good overlap which you will need to crimp with. Fill with the pork and make a lid and crimp shut, using the egg wash to stick together. I had to lift the pie out of the tin to crimp and then set back into the tin. Make a hole in the middle to let the steam escape.
Bake in the oven 170C/Gas 4 for 1 hour, until golden brown.
Jelly or not? It does keep the meat moist and soaks in so you won't get a huge amount of jelly unless you keep adding more stock which is time consuming. I used 1 pint of pork stock with the equivalent amount of gelatine to set and poured it into the warm pies, no jelly layer but succulent meat.
We went "In Deep" at the Grapesense wine class this week, we went to South America. We tried Atlantico Sur, Marselan from the Garzon Vineyard in Uruguay. Then we started talking about Uruguay and how it's remembered for Fray Bentos meat pies. Fray Bentos is a large Uruguayan town where the Liebig Company produced tinned meats and beef oxo for export to the UK. The Fray Bentos brand was launched in 1899, initially for corned beef, then later pies. By 1961, when Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney was launched, pie production had shifted to Hackney. From the dozen or so of us at the wine class, no one admitted to having ever eaten one of the pies! I remember my Grandma always had one in her kitchen cupboard but I have never tried one, so for the sake of my Grapesense friends - here is the photo story of the Steak and Ale pie that I bought and ate.
I chose the Steak and Ale pie as it had the highest meat content (25%) and by the way the pastry is 24% so not sure what the rest is?! The smell of the pie still lingers in my kitchen an hour or so later, that kind of school-dinner, cheap chip-shop pie smell, like kidneys cooking, although the pie doesn't have any kidneys in it. The pastry looked revolting when I took the lid off the tin but had an impressive puffiness to it when out of the oven, which soon deflated leaving a soggy under layer. The gravy was very salty with scruffy small pieces of beef that were all on one side of the tin.
Interesting Fray Bentos Facts!
Sales of the pies plummeted during the Falklands War. Uruguay being the neighbour of Argentina.
Sean Bean (the actor) always has a Fray Bentos pie on hand when filming abroad, he loves them.
The empty tin makes a good dog bowl.
- Impressive looking puff pastry out of the oven
- Soggy bottom of the pastry lid
- Small pieces of beef
- Surprising choice of pies at Morrisons
- The deep fill steak and ale pie
- Slimy pastry when opened
A late arrival got us both in for a fiver (you have to pay for this one...) but most of the food people were still there. What a proliferation of pickles! Lots of the same thing (of the chili jelly/home-made tomato ketchup variety) with one or two interesting exceptions - home made drinks and hot food, and lots of suppliers from Essex. But we love Abroad, and of course Essex gave us Jamie Oliver. We tried ice-cream, crisps, chocolate, strawberry and raspberry vodkas (although they weren't keen on Inspector X's horseradish vodka suggestion...) rhubarb and ginger cordial, fresh lemonade (so easy, so nice) and a shark kebab (very close to my Caribbean heart...shark kebabs...)
Oh the choice? Where to go first? With so many foodie things on one day we did an extensive expensive dash around the county - first to Orford where we knew we were going to find treats because they have the Pump Street Bakery and Pinneys and then to the Greene King Beer Festival (they may have had food but it was more about the beer...)
At Orford I spent £80 in as many yards, starting with a fab strawberry tart (well, half of one, because even Inspector X and I can only eat so much in one day...) followed by (half) a pulled pork wrap with coleslaw, the best salami we have tried in a while, an oyster, a Bloody Awkward (which regular followers of suffolkfoodie will know is an espresso with hot milk on the side - ie a SMALL coffee not a GIANT coffee, in fact I think it's called a cafe con leche Abroad, but is still to catch on here...) Where was I... a chocolate mousse and a dessert wine. What we couldn't eat we bought home - two bottles of Hill Farm oil, two Hill Farm mayo, a pheasant scotch egg, a fennel salami, honey-salted caramels, peanut brittle; doughnuts, a bears paw (more later on that one...) portuguese tarts and some other little tarts with almond and plum whose name I've forgotten, hot mint jelly, three crabs and two huge skate wings. The only thing missing at Orford was hot food and a home-made drinks.
In the next few days we will tell you what we bought in BSE and show you ALL the sumptuous pictures of the food we found.
This request has come into the suffolk foodie hq, although we are a bit late in putting it up here because we missed the e mail, because we were traipsing around the tropics. But can anyone help?
"We are holding a good old fashioned fayre on Finningham village green on Sunday August 25th 2013. We are looking for a traditional pie 'man' to sell his wares. We are expecting about 300 people. There will be stalls, hog roast, candy floss, charity stalls and hopefully jugglers and magicians. Anyone out there?" If you are a pie man with wares to sell email your details and we will pass them on.