Sunday, 4 September 2011

Reviewing Linda McCartney Vegetarian Mushroom & Ale Pies

I'm always intrigued when it states serving suggestion on the food packaging and it's just something random like two pies on a chopping board. I know you're supposed to take it with a pinch of salt (heh) but some days (most days) I lack inspiration and just want a few ideas of what will taste good together. On the back it claims to be "delicious with lightly sautéed leeks mixed into mashed potato". Show me the mash! They made it and put it in the corner of the photo so I can only see half of an out-of-focus bowl. I try to visualise, or should that be oralise, the flavours but this is why I fail at juxtaposing foods. Fine, focus on the pies. I don't have any leeks today anyway.

Linda McCartney Vegetarian Mushroom & Ale Pies come in packs of two and cost £1.49 (Sainsbury's). This was the winner of the UK's tastiest meat free dish of all the submissions made by consumers to Linda McCartney Foods between November 2010 and January 2011.
The pies take 30 minutes or more in the oven. I brushed the tops with soya milk and slid them in on a baking tray. 

I decided on the usual suspects: potatoes, carrots and peas. I had been craving chips. The really deep fried, crispy on the outside fluffy in the middle chips. As a compromise I peeled and sliced the potatoes, spread out the slices in an old roasting tin and covered in a light drizzle of olive oil, scrunches of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of oregano. After half an hour of diligently moving pies and potato slices around so everything would brown evenly and bringing the carrots and peas to boil in the last ten minutes everything looked done.

I started to doubt myself on serving the pies though. As I removed them from their foil tins the pastry sagged and collapsed on the plate. Dammit. I was too hungry to contemplate the effort of getting them back in their tins to see if cooking them longer would help when everything else was ready. I served. 

Initially we were quite impressed with the flavours. It was so unlike anything we'd eaten in a long time and yet so simple and it was really tasty only the richness of the gravy and the soggy bottom pastry began to get a bit much after half the pie. Lots of mash would have been a good idea after all to balance the strong ale flavours.
By the end of the pie none of us were impressed anymore and tried to determine whether it was just the ale flavour we were not a fan of or if it was possible the gravy could be less rich. We have some pies left in the freezer which I think I will cook for longer and try with lots of creamy mash but I doubt we will buy them again. 3/5