You can’t beat a good pie – they have been a cornerstone of UK cuisine for centuries.
Whether your go-to is steak, chicken, or vegetarian, there’s just something about them that we Brits can’t get enough of.
Last week was National Pie Week, and so Harri Evans, of North Wales Live, pitted Pukka against supermarket own-brand versions to see which shop-bought pie rules supreme.
Here is how he got on:
Tesco – £3.60 for 500g
“We start off with Tesco’s offering. Now, when we visited the supermarket they didn’t have any of the smaller 200g pies in stock, so we were left with no choice but to go with the big boy – which supposedly serves three people, according to the packaging.
“When I took it out of the oven after 30 minutes it looked quite appetising, with a sheen on the top and the pastry having turned a nice golden brown.
“Appearances can be deceiving, however, as as soon as I tucked into it, I was on course for a series of disappointments.
“To start with. I felt ill-equipped trying to access the contents of the pie with a standard set of fork and knives.
“I would have been better placed had I gone to the shed to pick up something a bit more heavy duty as the shortcrust casing was so tough and unyielding it felt like I was sawing through plywood.
“When I eventually broke through, I was initially encouraged by the amount of steak I uncovered.
“The chunks themselves were quite big and weren’t overly chewy either.
Pukka – The People's Pie
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“Sadly, the positives ended there as it was a very bland affair overall.
“There wasn’t much flavour to the gravy and although the steak was plentiful and the texture was ok, it didn’t add much to the flavour of the pie overall.
“Vague traces of the ale would surface with the odd bite as if to meekly remind me that I was actually tucking into a steak and ale pie, but this was barely perceptible most of the time and didn’t make the pie any less bland.
“And despite being twice the size of any other pie in this comparison, it wasn’t actually that filling in the end as I was forced to cast aside most of the pastry because it tasted like cardboard.
“A very underwhelming offering from Tesco.”
Harri gave Tesco’s pie 3/10.
M&S – £3 for 200g
“Gram for gram the most expensive option on this list – as you’d expect from fine foods purveyors M&S.
“The packaging isn’t as seductive as that of some of the other pies in this comparison but it’s always better to undersell and overdeliver – and that’s exactly what M&S have done here.
“Having experienced such a torrid time cutting through the shortcrust of the Tesco pie, I was relieved to see the knife almost glide through the casing this time around.
“The puff pastry top and the shortcrust casing blended well with the contents of the pie as well.
“The chunks of beef in this pies were slightly smaller than the others I tried, but there was still plenty there and it melted in the mouth.
“The IPA infused gravy was rich but not too rich. Overall a very satisfying option, though at double the price of some of the other pies tested, a luxury one at that.”
Harri gave M&S’s pie 7/10.
Morrisons – £1.25 for 200g
“By far the cheapest option on the list is Morrisons’ steak pie.
“From the box it didn’t look as appetising as some of the other pies we tested and after 25 minutes in the oven it didn’t look any better.
“This pie is a bit more no-nonsense than the others.
“There’s no puff pastry lid, or sprinkling of seasoning – instead it’s just shortcrust all round.
“That said, the pastry was easier to penetrate than the cardboard casing of Tesco’s steak and ale pie.
“Sadly, the flavours of the contents fell a bit flat and overall it was another bland offering and the flavours washed away quickly after every bite.
“There was a bit more to it than the Tesco pie, however, and at just £1.25 it can be considered a solid but unspectacular option.”
Harri gave the Morrisons steak pie 6/10.
Lidl – £2.49 for 250g
“This steak and ale pie from Lidl had a lot more going on in terms of flavour than any of the above.
“The supermarket’s deluxe offering had the puffiest pastry of all the pies I tested.
“The puff pastry lid was also sprinkled with pepper, which blended nicely with the contents when I broke in.
“The gravy was much richer than the above offerings but the flavours never strayed too far away from what you’d expect from a standard steak and ale pie.
“Along with the steak chunks, there were also slices of onion which sweetened the taste of the pie overall without overpowering the steak and ale.
“Definitely lived up to its billing as a more luxurious option and had the best pastry of all the pies we tested.
“At £2.49 a reasonable gourmet option for the more discerning pie eater.”
Harri gave Lidl’s pie an impressive 8/10.
Aldi – £2.49 for 250g
“Aldi’s ‘specially selected gastro’ steak pie is similar to Lidl’s deluxe option but has even more going on inside.
“As well as the diced beef and gravy, the pie also contains pieces of smoked bacon and caramelised onion.
“The result is the sweetest pie on the list by far.
“The gravy was also the richest and most fragrant by some distance.
“It’s clear that Aldi is going for something a bit more ambitious here – there’s even a suggested wine pairing on the back of the box.
“The pastry itself combined well with the contents of the pie and the sprinkling of thyme on the lid was a nice touch as well.
“A more complex and richer steak pie than any of the others on the list, and a very satisfying offering by Aldi here overall.”
Harri also gave Aldi 8/10.
Pukka – £1.50 for 200g
“Last on the bill, but not least is the people’s champion – the classic Pukka Pie.
“A staple dish at football grounds and chippies across the country.
“Initially, I wasn’t sure if the pie giant’s classic ‘All Steak’ pie would live up to the billing.
“At £1.50, it’s the second cheapest option on the list and I was braced for disappointment after the bar was set high by Aldi and Lidl’s gourmet offerings.
“There’s also something about having a pie at a chippy or a football match that just could not be replicated at home – or so I thought.
“After placing it in the oven for 25 minutes, I took my first bite and felt as if I had been transported to half-time on a cold, wet, and windy Tuesday night at Stoke – as the pie was very similar to the ones served in stadiums and chippies.
“As you’d expect, Pukka takes a no-nonsense approach with its steak pie.
“There’s no sprinkling of thyme on the lid, or strands of caramelised onion in the gravy – and there’s definitely not a suggested wine pairing on the back of the box.
“But it knows what it is and it does it well.
“The diced steak melted in the mouth and the gravy managed to pack a punch without being too rich.
“The overall flavour of the pie might be the most basic of all the ones I tried but it did what it said on the tin.
“The pastry also scored well and mixed in nicely with the steak and gravy.
“This was my personal favourite overall and it gets an extra mark for value.
“Pukka Pies’ no frills offering justifies the pie maker’s position as the brand leader and just about pips it over Aldi and Lidl’s pies which finish in joint-second place.”
Harri gave Pukka’s pie a whopping 9/10.
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