Few things in life cannot be improved by the addition of pastry. Buttery, flaky and crisp on the outside, with a hint of delicious goo from where it’s slurped up a bit juice from the filling, a really good pie can stun a whole table into silence.
I’ve got no beef with a lemon meringue or apple pie - in fact I think they’re wonderful - but for my money, the best pies are always meat pies. Oozing with savoury gravy and served with a generous dollop of mash, a meat pie is comfort food at its best.
When I was a child, I’d always go for good old-fashioned steak and kidney, even though I thought kidneys were revolting. I recognised, even then, that the kidney brought something extra to the flavour table and gave the gravy a special depth that couldn’t come from steak alone. I relished in the sense of danger that not quite knowing what was on the end of my fork could bring - like Russian roulette in pie form. Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?
Nowadays, I’m still a big fan of steak and kidney (and I’ll eat the kidney without so much as a wince in sight) or any other steak-based pie. It would be hard to go far wrong with steak and Guinness, steak and ale or steak in red wine, but (wo)man can’t live on steak alone.
This chicken, bacon and mushroom pie ticks all the right boxes for me. Intense savoury, meaty flavour, enough sauce for the mash to soak up and that perfect combination of crispy pastry on the outside, with a little bit of gravy-soaked goodness on the inside. I love a puff top, but flaky or short would work well too. You shouldn’t be scared to make your own puff pastry every now and then - it really is so much easier than everyone tries to make out. But, on days when you have better things to do, shop bought is almost as good as homemade, just make sure you pick up a pack that say “all butter”.