“ Manufacturer: Bells Bakers / Type: Pies „
Pies. The food of the Gods. And Rock Goddesses, such as myself of course. Now, pies come in various guises as you are all no doubt aware (unless you have been living in a cave / in suspended animation) - steak pies, mince pies, chicken pies, scotch pies, apple pies... all very pie-y and crust-y and usually rather yummy! My favourite though has to be the almighty macaroni... oh yes. The cheesy-ness... the macaroni-ness... and the pie shell pastry... just divine!
'Macaroni pies? Are you bonkers?', I hear you say! No, my non-Scottish readers (or those of you without a Gregg's bakery) - imagine a pie, a scotch pie... but instead of a meaty filling, there's a macaroni one! Amazing! Admittedly I haven't been brave enough to try the lasagne pies I've seen. One day...
Now choosing any old brand just won't do for macaroni pies - unless you are totally desperate and cannot find the best brand I believe there is... which is Bell's. If you need to resort to those frozen macaroni pies from Iceland or Farmfoods - then honey, you go for it and do what you have to in order to get your pie fix. However, if you spy the Bell's Macaroni Pies in the refridgerator section of whatever store you're in - then grab 'em and go and don't look back! To the check-out! Tally ho!!
Bell's are a Scottish bakery, set up a few years ago. I could give you specific dates, but all that information is on their website and if I tell you then you'll never learn. Just make sure you click on the right link - don't want you wandering onto a porn site by accident. Mind you that could be a good excuse if anyone catches you deliberately looking at nudie folk - "I thought I was learning about macaroni pies!". If anyone uses that, tell me if it works. If it doesn't, you can't hold me responsible ya bloody perv.
+ PIES PIES PIES PIES PIES... +
They're available in packs of 2 (or 4 mini ones apparently, which I've never actually seen but Ciao decided to picture - why have mini ones in the first place? For children? No! The pies are only for grown-ups - children do not have the emotional capacity to fully appreciate the pie, mitts off or the Tweenie toy gets it!!!).
The 'doubtful-it's-environmentally-friendly' plastic packaging should be quite easy to make out as it's white, green and red and would be a bit more eyecatching than the brown or purple pie packages that would normally surround it (well it's like that in my local Co-op - Bell's pies as farrrrrr as the eye can see... *sniff* it's such a beautiful sight...).
In the Co-op, where brand items tend to be priced a bit higher than stores such as Asda, Tesco, Iceland, etc. these pies retail at £1.49. But they were out of date today so I got them for 75pence instead - woohoo! I could check the prices for you elsewhere but remember what I said about you never learning?
+ READY... STEADY... COOK! OR HEAT, RATHER... +
Never one to usually go by instructions for heating things up, I tend to ignore the bumpf and blitz it in the microwave. However for the sake of this review I shall be heating one pie in the microwave as I normally would, and one in the oven as per the package instructions. How's that for scientific?
Remove packaging (well it's hardly boil in the bag, is it?!) and gaze lovingly at your pies. That could be a euphamism, couldn't it? See their perfect round soft shapes (oo-er!) but don't worry - it'll be firm and hard once we're done (just plain dirty now, isn't it?). There's even evidence of some cooking of the pies, since there's some nice orange-y cheese already melted on the pie-lid.
Right, oven has to be pre-heated to Gas Mark 4 (that's 180 degrees Celcius for you electric folk... I imagine you adjust accordingly for a fan oven) - be grateful, I normally ignore pre-heating instructions but for posterity I'm following the instructions here precisely. Pre-heating's what, 5 minutes? Maybe 10? *Time passes* It should be fine now I think.
One of the pies was placed on a baking tray, as instructed, and shoved on the shelf in the middle of the oven to do it's thing for 15 minutes "or until golden-brown". Nice one.
Since the other pie is getting blitzed in the microwave, I'll be putting that on a plate and heating in our 750w radiation-box for about 2 to 3 minutes or until I reckon it's done.
+ OVEN PIE vs MICROWAVE PIE - WHO WILL WIN? +
~ Well they both smell wonderful - a lovely warm pastry scent laced with cheese
~ Appearance (it's not gone green or anything, has it?) :
oven pie - has retained it's shape and is a nice golden brown at the top of the crusts and the cheese on top
microwave pie - has sagged out a bit around it's middle, almost like a yorkshire pud in resemblence
~ Texture (pray tell, is the pie crust crust-y?) :
oven pie - firm but not overly so, lifted easily onto plate and crusts seem crust-y
microwave pie - has firmed up in the way bread would when stale so not much change and crusts not crust-y, careful when lifting!
~ Taste (in case it's mutated into a curry pie, which Bell's also do) :
oven pie - pastry shell crusty on the top parts but still quite firm overall, held together well and cut with knife easily. Yummy. Cheesy lid hardened in places where it was browned but a pleasure to eat. Macaroni filling nice pale yellow and the shapes were separate and easy to distinguish from each other - not mushy but nice the cheese not too strong with a very subtle extra something for a slight kick. Well, more of a nudge really.
microwave pie - the pastry shell was still very soft and very easy to cut with a knife, but still tasted nice! The cheesy lid seemed quite goo-ey but also rather more-ish! The macaroni filling was all a bit squished together, the shapes not very defined but still tasty and not at all different in taste from the oven pie.
+ RESULTS ? +
Both pies were great to eat and certainly filled a gap in my hungry tummy, even though one was worthy enough to be sold in Gregg's and the other was a bit soft (flaccid, dare I say?). I would have to concede though and declare oven pie the winner, due to the crust-y crust and pie shell's firmness - but microwave pie is great though if you're wanting something softer to eat.
Nutritional stuff -
alas, on the packet there was no information regarding nutrional values and what-not so I sent a message to Bells through their website asking about calories per pie, whether the pies are suitable for vegetarians, who was the culinary genius who decided to put macaroni *in* a pie and when this momentous occasion was... however, my queries remain unanswered - and that was a good bloody 4 weeks ago since I asked (ignorant bastards, ignoring fan mail...).
Unfortunately... in my infinite wisdom I did not keep the pie packaging, and so do not have a list of ingredients. None the less, I can hazard a guess at the obvious ones...
If you have a dairy problem - you should probably avoid these. Don't worry, I'll eat your share.
If you're allergic to pastry - you should probably avoid these too. Fear not, I shall also have your share. It's a sacrifice I'm more than willing to make on behalf of your dietary needs.
+ CONCLUSION +
Lovely cheesy pies for around £1.50 or less (if you're charged any more than that, someone's taking the piss)... microwave for softer pastry or oven bake like instructed for proper crusty-ness... don't write to them declaring your love for their macaroni pies, as they may think you are mad and opt not to reply... swines.
Two stars off for lack of nutrional information and ignoring my message! I'll still buy your pies though.
www.bellbakers.co.uk - so to avoid 'accidental' porn search results
© bandcamp 2008 - onwards. Plagiarists shall be hit in the eye with a big pizza pie. With birds eye chilli peppers in it. Ha!
Macaroni pasta smothered in a mild and creamy cheese sauce loaded into our famous scotch pie style shell.