“ Type: Snacks / Brand: Marks & Spencer „
When I ordered these Mini Hot Pies from the M&S Food to Order service it was a classic example of never going shopping on an empty stomach. I'd already spent a small fortune on food for my granddaughter's 'posh' 13th birthday party but when I saw these wonderfully sweet little pies I simply had to order them despite the fact that for the price of £10 I could have made dozens of them myself!
For your £10 you will receive 24 very small pies, 12 each of roast chicken in gravy and steak and vegetable. Both varieties are absolutely delicious with the roast chicken pies being my absolute favourite of the two. They come ready to be cooked in the oven and take just 20 minutes so it was simply a case of popping them in while preparing the rest of the buffet food, I timed it so that I could put them onto the buffet table immediately from the oven thereby allowing my guests to get the very best from the flavours while they were still piping hot.
The roast chicken pieces are enclosed in a delicious buttery shortcrust pastry which has a wonderful texture that melts in your mouth as you eat, the pastry itself barely needs chewing at all and is the absolute perfect consistency in my opinion. The chicken is cut into small pieces and the pie is literally jam packed with the tender and perfectly cooked meat. The thick, almost solid, gravy compliments the chicken wonderfully and has obviously been made with a good quality chicken stock. I'm impressed that these pies aren't too salty as often happens with shop bought chicken pies, and while the lack of vegetables in the pies might seem strange it's actually just right because it allows you to concentrate on the delightfully fresh chicken.
The steak and vegetable pies were equally lovely, although I must admit the buttery pastry of the chicken variety just gave them the edge for me. I was amazed at how tender the steak was, if only we mere mortals could cook steak to this delightful consistency then we'd never need to buy pre-cooked or prepared foods again! The vegetables are carrot and celery, both are also cooked exceedingly well with the celery giving the pie a lovely crunch similar to that you get when adding water chestnuts to your cooking.
The vegetables haven't been used to pack the pie out either as there is plenty of steak in there, it's cut into small slivers and is complimented beautifully by the Dorset ale gravy in which it's served. This gravy is thick and rich, extremely meaty with a very vague spiciness that makes eating these pies an interesting experience as I found myself searching for the source of this spiciness with every mouthful.
I cannot fault these pies at all, even the relative expense of them was insignificant as I watched all my guests enjoy them so much. I had ordered two packs of these with the plan of freezing a packet for Christmas but ended up cooking all 48 of the pies for the buffet because the first batch had gone down so very well. Each pie is eaten in two mouthfuls so M&S have correctly stated that each pack of 24 will comfortably feed six people, allowing them four pies each. As I served mine as part of a buffet they did stretch further, but I envisage four being the perfect serving size should you decide to serve them as a plated meal with potatoes and vegetables.