I love pastry.. Be it sweet or savoury, I go bauble bonkers over it all. Luckily for me, Christmas and Pastry seem to go hand in hand with everywhere stocking the stuff at this time of year, in all of its glorious, buttery crisp forms.
Pieminister are no exception with not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 festively inspired pies which I picked up in Waitrose whilst on a 2 for £6 offer. Each weighing in at 270g, there's the Vegetarian Society Approved, Christingle, Mistle Moo for the meat munchers, Deer Santa for those who don't have a conscience (Poor Donner) and a traditonal turkey feast in the form of the Three Kings. All bar the latter which needs 35, are designed to be heated at 160ºC Fan for 25 minutes.. So I broke all the rules and whacked the lot in at 200ºC for about 20 until they were golden on the outside with a hot middle.
A roast parsnip, west country cheddar, leek & chestnut pie.
Starting with the Veggie option, I was very much looking forward to getting stuck in after being engulfed by the mouthwatering scent of cheese upon cutting into the sizeable pie. Absolutely packed to the brim, soft chunks of parsnip were in abundance, delivering sweet notes, distinctly that of the vegetable and feeling very much wintery and wholesome. The leek came through adding onion-y tones with the smooth cheddar sauce being of just the right cheesiness to compliment - Nothing too strong, overpowering or sickly. I can't say I noticed the chestnuts but felt nothing was missing as was, especially with the perfect casing of crisp, buttery pastry, breaking up the texture and adding that final flare of cheese. It's top marks from me - 5 out of 5!
100% British beef steak, Long Clawson stilton, 100% British bacon & chestnut pie.
Moving onto the Mistle Moo.. Which somewhat disappointingly, didn't smell all that much of beef and cheese. Once again, the pastry itself was second to none in being of just the right thickness, plenty flaky and something I never wanted to end! Extremely meaty, thanks to a generous amount of tender beef chunks with a thick gravy as a fantastic accompaniment, the filling had a deep, almost fruity flavour - Certainly reflecting both the red wine and redcurrant jelly in the ingredients! Mushrooms popped up in a few mouthfuls adding some chew and a second almost "meaty" hit with subtle bacon tones in the background. As for the Stilton.. Well, what stilton? I would seriously question whether any was in there to begin with! It's a 4 out of 5.Deer Santa
100% British venison, dry cured 100% British bacon & red wine pie.
Caribou shield your eyes and ears - MSW has eaten one of your brethren! (Not one for me sadly, due to the use of green lentils). As seen above, the casing to the pie was faultless with a loaded filling to match. Very game-y in taste with another, even deeper red wine edge, the overall flavour was extremely rich and perhaps, a tad overbearing for the bacon, lentils and other vegetables, which unfortunately didn't really get a look in. The chunks however, did add a different textural element, keeping things nice and soft. Definitely one for the real Venison fanatics - A 4 out of 5 from MSW.
100% British Turkey, smoked 100% British bacon, parsnip & cranberry pie.
Lastly and the pie, I was most looking forward to.. Three Kings! Alternately to the previous 3 and those comprising of Pieminister's Classic Pie Range, this little beauty came with 30% less pastry - Visible to see from the "bare" topping and making for a much softer pie. Thankfully, this didn't take anything away in the taste with loads of chunks of succulent, full of flavour, turkey, quite a strong undertone of porky bacon and an uncanny whiff of some sort of herby stuffing. The cranberry added a good hit of sweetness with a general vegetable flavour along with a hint of buttery cheese, to really produce an all round festive feel. Amazing - A second 5 out of 5 from me!
Well.. I am almost lost for words. Almost, I said - All 4 of these Christmas Pieminister Pies are absolutely sensational! I plan on buying both the Christingle (AKA, A parsnip lovers dream) and Three Kings (All the good of a Christmas Sammie but in pastry) again and maybe even hide a few away in the freezer (They can all be frozen, FYI!) to enjoy throughout next year. As for the other 2.. Yes, it is a shame that the Mistle Moo lacked any sort of cheese flavour but I suppose this isn't all that surprising considering the packaging states only a measly 1% of Stilton went in to begin with.. Surely that's a bit of false advertising in it's description, no? And finally, the Deer Santa.. I obviously can't give my opinion on but it wooed MSW and if the quality of the rest are anything to go buy, I can't see it being anything but delicious, if legumes don't bother you.. Or the prospect of eating one of Santa's Original Eight, that is! Pieminister, I salute you!