The humble pie, usually consisting of some kind of meat filling encased in pastry, is actually at least 10,000 years old. Pies were originally a solution for transporting food on long journeys overland or by sea, with the pastry acting as a protective crust to preserve the contents for longer. This crust itself wasn’t usually eaten by the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and others who are known to have eaten pies all those years ago. Sooner or later, however, someone obviously realised how a pastry crust can be just as tasty as the filling!
Pies clearly have a long and fascinating history. Pictures of early pies, known as galettes, were drawn on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who reigned during the 1200s BC. The earliest known pie recipe is one for chicken pie, written in Sumer – the earliest known civilisation in Mesopotamia. A 1st century Roman cookbook also mentions a whole range of pie recipes.
Although pies have international origins, they have become synonymous with British culture, forming a warming and hearty meal that goes perfectly with beer or ale. Much of the world’s modern claims to fame in the pie world are found in Great Britain too. According to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive meat pie that has ever been sold was made in a pub in Lancashire, which sold a pie for more than £8,000 in the early 2000s! This pie was filled with the finest ingredients sourced from across the globe, including wagyu beef, Winter Black truffles and vintage Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine.
To celebrate British Pie Week this year, we’ll be serving a whole host of pies that take inspiration from different corners of the British Isles. These will be served with some delectable locally brewed ales in The Lock Bar and Kitchen from 11th to 31st March.
To whet the appetite, here’s a special recipe for the occasion too:
Chicken, bacon and Marsala pie
8 ounces chicken thigh fillets cut into 1-inch pieces
3 rashers streaky bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
2 cups chestnut mushrooms, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups hot chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic-infused oil
1 tbsp Marsala
2 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
9 by 16-inch sheet (13-ounce) all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry
2 pie dishes