British Meat Pie Week continues with Trader Joe’s delicious (and heart-clogging) Chicken Balti Pies.
If you read the previous post on Trader Joe’s Steak and Ale Pies, you know more or less what to expect here – it’s the same flaky, buttery crust, only this time they’ve pumped it full of a savory, mildly spicy, chicken curry. The result is just as warm and hearty as the Steak and Ale pie, even more delicious, and even more chock-full of fat.
|What it is:||A hearty, British style pot-pie – with curry!|
|Worth it:||Yes…again, if you can spare the calories|
Rather than the ale-based steak stew in Trader Joe’s other British, meat-filled pastry Trader Joe’s has elected to fill this version with a particular form of tangy chicken curry known as “balti” (named after the the pot it was originally prepared in). Though still rich with chicken, potatoes and carrots, it’s notably less thick than TJ Steak and Ale variation. This is actually a good idea, as it lets the curry sauce speak for itself – and the curry sauce is pretty dang delicious.
The mildly spicy and richly flavored curry sauce hits all the right notes – with a nice tang and just a little bit of fire. It’s good enough that I wish I could buy it just by itself – maybe in one of Trader Joe’s pre-made Indian Fare meals, like with their Punjab eggplant. Of course, in this case the balti curry is already sealed within the same singularly tasty pastry crust used by the Steak and Ale Pie. This shares the same strengths of the Steak and Ale variety (crispy, light, flaky, etc) and the same weaknesses (made with whole sticks of butter).
Those calories from fat are still the big consideration here. The balti pies pack even more butter into the crust, if that were even possible, with 380 calories from fat, or 42 grams of fat per pie.
Like the Steak and Ale Pie before it, these Balti pies have a strong tradition in England where they are consumed by “football clubs” (whatever those are…) with a nearly ritualistic fervor. If you share the belief, as so many do, that British food is unpalatable, picking up either these or the Steak and Ale Pies might just be enough to make you forget about all the bubble-and-squeak, eel pies, mashed peas, Branston pickle, various blood-based puddings, and so forth. Just don’t think too hard about your diet while you’re eating them.
Would I Recommend It: Yes – better than pot-pie to be sure.
Would I Buy It Again: As soon as I stop carrying about my waistline.
Final Synopsis: Really good curry, in really good (really fatty) crust.
Are you a lumberjack? Do you haul peat from bogs, or otherwise labor in cold, wet, physically exhausting conditions, day-in-day out? If so, you’ll find exactly the sort of hearty, hot and, above all, calorie intensive repast you need to keep going in Trader Joe’s Steak and Ale Pies.
|What it is:||A hearty, British style pot-pie|
|Worth it:||Yes… if you can spare the calories.|
These dense cylinders of dinner are the classic English version of the more familiar American chicken-pot pie. The box contains two meat stew-filled “pies”, bottled up inside thick, but buttery and flaky crust. A few things set these steak and ale pies apart from traditional pot-pies – the first among them being the ale. The “ale” in the product name isn’t just an idle threat – TJ’s has actually stewed up each of their pies with strong, stout beer. It’s an addition you can certainly taste, and it gives each pie a dark, slightly bitter bite tinged with the distinctive taste of a strong porter.
That’s not a taste that might go well with jut any pot-pie, but Trader Joe’s does well by it by going heavy on the steak and thick gravy filling. This thick, meaty taste pairs well with the ale edge, conjuring up a warm culinary sensation of coming in from a cold autumn dusk, stomping off your boots, and hunkering down by a roaring hearth.
TJ doesn’t limit himself to just steak and ale, however, also throwing in potatoes, carrots, celery and onions to make up a mighty hearty stew. Of course, if I’d wanted a stew, I would have bought a stew. Like Trader Joe’s other pot-pies these really triumph on the strength of their delicious, buttery crust. Unlike the more common American pot-pie, these Brit-inspired creations are entirely surrounded by tasty, crunchy crust. Thick enough to stand up to manhandling on the plate, the crust is also light and savory enough that eating your way through it to the piping hot core is a delight, not a chore.
Of course, the words “buttery” and “hearty” don’t usually get thrown around with the word “fattening” also, and it’s no different here. This is not the frozen dinner to pick up if you’re watching your waist line. Just one 10 oz. pie contains 670 calories, a whopping 63% of which is pure fat. Of the 41 grams of fat in a single pie, 24 grams are saturated fats (120% your daily recommend value) and – even worse – 0.5 grams come from universally reviled trans fats.
And even in the face of all that, after eating one of the pies, I was left sitting there hungry. 10 ounces of anything does not a meal in itself make. If you’re not a deep sea crab fisherman or professional bear wrestler and still decide to pick these up, make sure to get some salad greens and a light vinaigrette for the side.
Would I Recommend Them: Yes, but be prepared to feel diet guilt.
Would I Buy Them Again: Sure, the next time I’m gearing up for a all-night forced march.
Final Synopsis: Tasty English-style pot pies with a massive fat content.