EMMA DUNN meets a master pie maker who believes that ingredients are the key to a perfect dish

NOTHING beats a steaming hot pie oozing with a meaty filling.

In fact, it is hard to even think of the flaky golden pastry and thick flavoursome gravy without your mouth watering.

So in celebration of this week’s British Pie Week we have sampled some of the best the area has to offer.

With more than 16 years’ experience of making and baking the British favourite, K & EJ Crump & Son Butchers in Royal Wootton Bassett High Street know a thing or two about the perfect pie.

Their selection includes steak and ale, steak and stilton, steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom, turkey and ham, venison and pork, and of course, good old plain steak.

Owner Andy Crump, who sells more than 300 pies a week, said: “The secret to a great pie is good quality produce. You can’t put rubbish in a pie. We use the best stewing steak and the best chicken fillets.

“Some of the mass-manufactured pies are what they are, but obviously with ours and with many other private butchers who make their own pies, you don’t get mush that you’re not sure what it is, you have got chunks of meat. It’s all about the ingredients that go into them.”

The butchers was founded by Andy’s parents, Keith and Jean Crump, in 1985.

The family business started making pies after an employee suggested it and they gradually added a variety to their selection, with steak and stilton being one of the most recent additions.

“People’s tastes have changed over the years. Rather than a basic pie they like something a bit different. People particularly like the steak and ale pie,” said Andy, who has worked at the business for 26 years.

Their pies have won several awards, and they will be competing again this year for another award at the Food Exhibition in Birmingham.

Andy said he believes they could win gold or platinum.

The pie-making process in the Crumps kitchen starts when the stock is boiled for seven hours to get it nice and thick.

The meat is then added and cooked for about four hours before it is cooled, and then poured into the flaky pastry case ready to be baked.

Most of the beef they use is from Scotland, as they believe that is the best, and the rest of the meat they use is from a supplier in Cheltenham.

Andy said that unlike their homemade sausages, where the Bassett Banger is the clear favourite, there isn’t a clear winner among the pies.

“There is a good cross section that people enjoy. Some weeks we sell more than others if there has been programmes on television,” he said.

“My favourite is the plain steak. I don’t like cheese and I am a teetotaller so I just like the good old fashioned plain pie.”

The pies and sausage rolls range from £1.20 to £4.49. For more information visit www.crumpbutchers.co.uk.


Taste test

  • The steak and ale pie from Crump Butchers was everything Andy Crump promised. As I cut into the flaky pastry, I could see thick chunks of meat and a rich, dark gravy inside.

    The meat was tender and clearly good quality – in fact there wasn’t a single bite that I didn’t enjoy. The pastry was crisp and the filling was satisfying, Crump Butchers really do make great pies.
    The oval shaped pie, which serves two to three people, is £3.99

  • Every pie at M&S looks just as tempting as the next.
    Their delicious deep-filled pie range, priced at £3.49 each,  includes slow roasted ham, onion and mature cheddar, meat and potato, chicken, leek and wholegrain mustard, and pork, cider and smoked bacon.
    I tried the steak and old peculiar ale pie, which was delicious. The taste of the Theakstons ale shone through, the meat was soft and the pastry had a lovely rich flavour.
  • For people watching their waistlines, M&S is also selling a range of guilt free pies for £3.49.
  • The minced beef and vegetable puff pastry topped pie, which includes minced beef in a red wine gravy with carrots, onions and leeks topped with puff pastry, is just 302 calories.
    The chicken and vegetable puff pastry topped pie is just 322 calories.                   EMMA DUNN