Feast of the M60 weighs up Holland’s latest addition

With the pandemic still doing its worst, you could be forgiven for thinking “hey, Feast of the M60 could be doing Banana Bread reviews.” Or that East of the M60 will be doing a three-page review on hand sanitisers with an equivalent of the Zzap! 64 Gold Medal going to Cussons’ Love Hearts hand sanitiser.

One of the most notable things about the pandemic is being unable to go to a football match in person. This is understandable, due to the abilities of trying to socially distance yourself from fellow supporters. (I can speak from experience when I saw Stalybridge Celtic’s 1 – 1 draw at Alder House against Atherton Collieries). For the time being, our football pie of choice will have to be consumed at The Lockdown Inn or The Heir Indoors with a mug of Bovril. In a socially distanced queue for the microwave oven with your canine or feline friend two metres away.

The pie, pint or Bovril goes hand in hand with the joy of watching non-league football. At many grounds within the County Palatines of Lancashire and Cheshire, Walter Holland’s savouries are well-represented at the pie hut. Occupying my UEFA Champions League spot for The Best Served Holland’s Pie At A Football Ground is a Meat and Potato Pie I had at Goredale Avenue, Abbey Hey’s ground. It was served on a proper pot plate in the upstairs social club.

At that time, it was the only bright spot of Stalybridge Celtic’s Manchester Premier Cup match with the North West Counties Football League side. We were losing till Darius Osei came on as sub and ripped the East Manchester side to bits in the second half. Apart from the pie and Osei’s second half display, the other two things I remembered most about the game was a slow journey on the 203 from Piccadilly Gardens and the torrential rain.

As football, Bovril, lager and pastry products are consumed at home these days, Feast of the M60 decided to review a pie for the take-home market. Ladies and gentlemen: I shall bring you… Holland’s family-size Meat and Potato Pie.

Holland’s Potato and Meat Family Pie

Serves four people (or three rather hungry people). Best served with thick cut oven chips or mashed potato with baked beans or processed peas and gravy.

Prices:

  • TESCO: £3.00;
  • Morrisons: £3.25;
  • ASDA: £3.50.

All prices correct at the time of writing and may be subject to special offers, price rises or price cuts.

As soon as I picked up my family pie from Morrisons, I found that price-wise it compared well with Leicester’s Pukka Pies. The Syston-based pie makers have sold their own plate pies for the home for the last two years. At Morrisons, their Chicken and Gravy, and Chunky Steak pies have sold for £3.29 (sometimes down to £3.00 on special offer).

Realising that Pukka’s eyes on the take-home market could be lucrative, our fellows from Lancashire wanted a piece of the action. Last autumn, Holland’s launched six types of family pies with three fillings. One of them is Minced Beef and Onion; the other one is Cheese and Onion, with the unique selling point of using Wyke Farms’ Cheddar Cheese in its ingredients. The third one, which Feast of the M60 is reviewing, is their Potato and Meat pie, the most Northern of the three flavours. All three flavours are available in frozen and refrigerated forms.

From past experience, I have always gone for Holland’s Potato and Meat pies as The Hi-Vis Jacket Choice (you always know where you are). Then their Steak and Kidney pie – either as a second pie or the second choice (if the Potato and Meat ones are unavailable on my fairly rare trips to Ewen Fields). In the local chippy (if you’re reading this, “Hiya, George!”), it has to be their Steak and Kidney Puddings.

I left Morrisons with high hopes for the family-sized potato and meat pie. As Holland’s have opted for the shortcrust pastry style used in their Cheese and Onion and Minced Beef and Onion pies, I was underwhelmed and saw the first signs of buyers’ regret when I got back to Chez Vall.

Served with oven chips and baked beans (both ALDI’s finest), it was not a bad weekday tea option. As for the pie itself, the Potato and Meat filling was exactly the same as the individual pies. There was a generous amount of cut potatoes, gravy, and a fairly healthy serving of meat.

The most disappointing part of the pie for me was the shortcrust pastry. I can understand why Holland’s used the same pastry style as their Cheese and Onion and Minced Beef pies; standardisation and production time savings. The best thing about Holland’s Potato and Meat pies is the pastry; it has a slightly more suet style texture (though not made with suet) with a soggy case. The crust isn’t fluted like their steak, minced beef, and cheese and onion pies. It is more protruding and designed for eating upside down. Plus the cases are deeper.

Should Holland’s plate pies become a success, they really need to do a deep filled, family-sized version of the individual Potato and Meat pies. (Pastry) Case in point: Pukka’s plate pies are of a similar shape to Holland’s individual Potato and Meat pies – albeit with Pukka’s trademark puff pastry.

Feast of the M60 Verdict

If you like your Holland’s Pies, the family pie is fine if your love affair with Lancashire’s most famous savoury export is a casual romance. If you have had Holland’s Pies for several years (man and boy, superstore and chippy), you might find the Potato and Meat family pie an underwhelming proposition. At a price point of £3.00 to £3.50, I would say a little pricy compared with what you get with some rival brands. One other thing: if you find that Morrisons is selling Holland’s individual fresh pies at 50p a time, that might be a better, cheaper option.

As teatime family pie options go, Pukka Pies’ sharing pies are a better option if you like your brands. Our favourite own brand option is ALDI’s Specially Selected Chunky Steak Pie (£3.29) for the quality of its meat and pastry. Morrisons’ Steak and Ale pie is another good, cheaper choice.

If you’re looking for a decent Lancastrian alternative to the Holland’s pies as an occasional treat, bank on Bowen’s pies from Adlington. Their pies are a lot closer to the homemade ones your grandma or mother used to make. The Potato and Meat pies are filling enough to be a main course meal.

  • Presentation: 78% (Nice box, shortcrust pastry might not appeal to all tastes);
  • Taste: 73% (Filling exactly as you expect with individual Potato and Meat pies, but shortcrust pastry lets it down);
  • Value For Money: 70% (Good at £3.00, maybe a little pricy at £3.30 or above);
  • Overall rating: 71% (A pleasing addition to the kitchen, but there are slightly better family pies around at a similar price).

S.V., 27 January 2021.

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