Posted 8th March 2010
‘Who ate all the pies?' If you, the readers of this blog, know a thing or two about good food, your answer might well be ‘Er, I did'. And if that's the case, don't think for a moment that I imagine you shamefacedly digging your ‘fat' jeans out from the back of the wardrobe. Because, despite the old chant that's hollered from the terraces at every footballer who looks as if he enjoys a pint or two, a fondness for pies doesn't necessarily mean a belt-loosening blow-out.
No, this week - official British Pie Week - I'm giving pies a big-up for far more noble reasons. No 1: they're one of Britain's great gifts to gastronomy. Classic recipes such as steak and kidney pie and shepherd's pie are right up there with fish and chips as dishes instantly identifiable with British cooking - wholesome and downright delicious comfort food of the highest order. No 2: they're supremely good value. Making a pie with the remnants of the Sunday roast chicken is one of the easiest and savviest ways to use up leftovers in a way that doesn't feel remotely like the culinary equivalent of slipping into a hair shirt. Pre-, mid- or post-recession, how can that ever be wrong? No 3: they are utterly classless, as at home wrapped in paper from a takeaway to be eaten on the way back from the pub, as they are served up on porcelain for a smart supper with friends.
Not even the issue of not having the time to make your own pastry need stand between you and a little midweek homemade pie joy - the ready-made stuff will do the trick just as well. And if you're trying to cut down on pastry itself, that's where the pot pie comes in. Without a pastry base, but with a cute, cut-to-fit lid, it delivers around 50 per cent of the pastry that a standard pie would feature, but a full 100 per cent of its spirit-lifting power.
But I'm not in a pie frame of mind merely because this is British Pie Week. Just as puppies are not just for Christmas, pies aren't just for BPW. A dish this versatile, as in tune with the times and as delicious to eat deserves to be enjoyed week in, week out. For all those planning to make, buy or eat a pie, whenever that may be, we salute you.