A steak in pies
Award-winning butcher brothers John and Andrew Green are famous for selling pies at their Leeds shop, Wilsons of Crossgates. They sell thousands of small pork pies a week, not to mention a large variety of other types and sizes of pie. With 25 years' experience behind them, there is not much they do not know about pie-making.
John says creating a handmade pie can be a simple business. He sells the pies unbaked, so customers can take them home and cook them themselves. "They don't have the hassle of having to make the pie, but they do get the satisfaction of cooking it, so they feel they've had a hand in creating it," says John.
One of the secrets of a successful pie of this type is to ensure that the filling is adequately cooked prior to being put into the pie case. John says an open-grained steak should be used, as this is tender when eaten in a baked pie. Lamb, chicken or turkey and ham can be used as an alternative to steak. Good-grade, relatively new potatoes should be used.
Use 3kg of steak, 800g of carrot, 2kg of potato, 2.5kg of water and 1kg of onion gravy concentrate to make enough mix for about 50 pies. Mix the ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat for about three hours or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally. A gravy thickener and fresh onion can be added near the end of the cooking period as an alternative to using onion gravy concentrate.
John says a portion of small garden peas can be added to each pie mix prior to putting on the lid. It is important to create a small hole in the centre of each lid to allow the pie to breathe and to prevent the mix bursting through the sides of the pie.
As he sells the pies uncooked, he advises customers to bake them for 40 minutes on gas mark 4 or 180ºC in an electric oven.
In 2005, Wilsons was named Top Shop, the prestigious award that is today called Butcher's Shop of the Year. The brothers, fifth-generation butchers, have won a string of other awards too, including being three times winner of the Yorkshire Small Pork Pie Competition between 1999 and 2007.
The Greens have long been famed for making more than 10,000 small pork pies a week and John says he has lost count of exactly how many they do make. The company supplies pies to Leeds Rhinos on rugby match days and has a thriving van delivery service that sells lunchtime pies and sandwiches to industrial estates in Leeds.
In addition to the Leeds Crossgates shop they have two other shops and a separate production unit.
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