It’s always Retro Food night at my house it seems….. it feels odd to be writing a review for a Fray Bentos pie, you’d have thought most people would have already eaten one of these in their lives, but I’ll do it anyway! Or, maybe, they are now just a thing of legend, with the younger generations being aware of Fray Bentos pies, but missed out on the years when it was an exciting exotic treat!
Growing up, a Fray Bentos pie would be served occasionally, as a treat, and we loved them! One pie served four people, so you didn’t get a lot, but it’s better to have a little than nothing! Reading the can now, I can see that one half of one can should be a portion, so one Fray Bentos pie serves two people.
I’d bought two Fray Bentos pies a few months back – so have to eat them at some point – and today was the day. I chose the Chilli Beef pie for no particular reason. My regular can opener opened the lid without any issues whatsoever and there, inside, was exactly what I’d expected to see: a layer of moist, uncooked, puff pastry.
How to Cook a Fray Bentos Pie
It’s quite straight forward, the instructions are on the bottom of the can though, which can be annoying if you have it in the oven before you wonder how to cook it! Here are the steps:
- Pre-heat your oven. 450°F, 230°C, Gas 8.
- Open the lid of the can and remove the lid entirely
- Place the complete pie, including the metal base tin, on a baking tray or sufficient foil to catch any dripping gravy as the pie finishes cooking, they can get a bit messy if you turn your back!
- Place the pie in a pre-heated oven, at 230°C, cook for 25-30 minutes. The pie is ready when the top has risen a lot – and you can hear the pie sizzling and see the lid moving up/down as the heat is trying to escape.
- Remove the pie from the oven and serve
Before you cook it, the pie looks like this:
Now, that’s straight forward, but when it comes to any “how to cook” instructions, whether that’s a Fray Bentos pie or simple roasted vegetables, you do have to watch it to see how it performs in your oven, so you can make any adjustments necessary.
I cooked the Chilli beef pie in a mini oven, a toaster oven, which has a small inside space, so I reduced the cooking temperature to 215°C. That turned out to be fine. Using a toaster oven I pre-heated it for 4 minutes with the top and bottom elements on, then I put the pie into the oven, on the bottom shelf, with just the base element on and cooked it for 25 minutes. I was watching it all the time, to see how long it would take – and I couldn’t resist the urge to fiddle with it and turn it around as one side was rising quicker than the other.
I took a photo of it while it was still in the oven – not a great shot as there’s no light in there and outside it’d turned dark and started to rain.
In reality it probably needed a little more cooking, but I get impatient once I’m hungry.
I then took it out of the oven and popped it down on the worktop, intending to take some photos of it – but in under a minute there was a sudden “pfffffft” noise and the top deflated and sunk. Oh well, that won’t make for a great photo but it’ll still taste the same!
I just served the pie with some mashed potato, for quickness.
How Was it?
Well … I probably need a little more practice to get that puff pastry top pastry spot on, but it was just how I remembered it from my childhood when mum used to serve a Fray Bentos steak pie.
There wasn’t a great deal of filling though, it must be said. That part was a bit skimped I feel. Of course, the only way to fit more in would be to reduce the puff pastry top, but I do feel they could probably have reduced the layers by 3-4 as the bottom layers were soggy anyway. So a little more filling and marginally fewer layers of puff pastry and it would’ve hit the spot better.
The fault here was mine as you ARE supposed to cook the pie at a high heat and be patient for it to finish cooking. There will ALWAYS be spilt gravy from the pie coming out of the tin and dribbling down the outside of the pie dish when it’s ready to eat – and, I’m afraid, the “neat freak” in me tends to decide to stop cooking food once it gets a bit messy.
Overall though, it was a nice enough pie. I’d not rush out to buy another, but if I were offered a slice in the future I’d not turn it down.
I’ll review the Balti flavour when I eat that one in the next few months!
Can You Reheat a Fray Bentos Pie?
Well, as you can see, I only ate half of mine. Once it’s cooled I’ll put the other half of the pie into a microwave safe container and then I’ll microwave it hot again in 2-3 minutes. I’d be comfortable reheating the other half in the oven, so long as I’d cooled it very quickly and kept it covered in the fridge. Do NOT reheat the pie in a microwave oven in the original tin as you cannot use metal dishes in a microwave.
Zero Waste: Re-Use the Base Tin.
I’m going to keep the base tin as it might come in handy to use as a baking tray for other food in the coming months. There’s no point just recycling it if I can get some more uses from it. It’s oven safe, so I’d just line it with foil to reheat foods most of the time.
You can re-use an empty Fray Bentos Pie Tin for any of these dishes:
- Making small, 1-2 portions of quiche
- A handy Toad in the Hole dish serving 1-2 people
- A single Giant Yorkshire Pudding dish
So, I’ve kept my empty pie dish under the thinking of “just in case” and will be reusing it in the future… probably for making individual giant Yorkshire puddings