Friday, 22 July 2011

Review: Heston's Waitrose Steak Pie and Malt Salt

So the cupboards are a little bare which made it time to delve into the freezer. A while ago I bought one of the “Heston does Waitrose” pies (okay, it’s the “Heston from Waitrose” range but same same), specifically the Steak, Ale & Kombu Pie

Despite being waaay behind everyone else who has probably reviewed the whole range (it came out last November after all) I thought I may as well do a little write-up and at the same time also review another recent purchase, Malt Salt.

I should point out that there is little I like more than buying strange ingredients and condiments so when I first read about this stuff last year I wanted to give it a go. I bought some Velveeta “cheese” at the same time, having read about it so frequently on US food blogs & forums I had to get some. Suffice to say that so far I’ve been too scared to do anything with it, an oblong block of processed cheese wrapped in foil and stored in a cardboard box just seems so, well, wrong. Old Bay Seasoning from the same order will be tried out later in the week however. If it’s good enough for Nigella it’s good enough for me.

So onto the pie. I bought this on offer, I think it was £2.49 at the time. So first thing’s first - I think that’s not bad for a quality ingredient pie. Full whack of £3.49 however may become a little prohibitive when talking in numbers for all but a very occasional “I can’t be bothered to do much cooking” mid-week treat.

Despite the filling appearing to be a slightly odd colour initially, it is in fact rather good: buttery shortcrust pastry filled with a rich steak and ale sauce topped with crisp puff pastry.  I like the fact that there are two pastries: the shortcrust shell being crisp yet giving and the puff lid just as I like it with the exterior being light and flaky and the interior moist and rich.  The pie is well seasoned too with that umami richness that clearly the kombu was used for, and the filling generous.  

I sautéed some Charlotte potatoes to go with the pie and with which of course to try out my “Malt Salt”.  This is basically vinegar flavoured salt invented by an American company to stop fish & chips being “as cold and soggy as a Seattle winter”.  I actually like soggy chips: by which I mean I like perfectly cooked, crispy chip-shop chips made soggy by the copious amounts of vinegar I add.  If the paper stays intact on a cone of chips, then I clearly haven’t doused them with enough vinegar.  As I said, I like buying strange ingredients and condiments, even if those things make no sense when combined with my preferences.  Sautéed potatoes on the other hand - different matter.  Now those I don’t like soggy.

Surprisingly the stuff works, you do indeed get the sinus clearing blast of chip shop malt vinegar (OK so I probably used too much but what can I say, I like the taste of vinegar) but the potato stayed crispy.  Now I rarely have fried potato but when I do, I will probably sprinkle some of this on it.  What I won’t be ordering is the same companies “Bacon Salt” because while bacon is good (I have a bacon jam recipe to post!) I don’t believe that “Everything should taste like bacon”.

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