By Rory Reynolds
TWO top Scots chefs have shunned the nation’s finest beef, salmon and venison, in favour of the humble Scotch pie for this year’s Great British Menu.
Tony Singh and Michael Smith have created their own gourmet versions of the football terrace favourite to represent Scotland at the yearly cooking contest.
The pair will serve their upper crust pies to Prince Charles as part of the new BBC Two series.
For the fifth series of the Great British Menu, chefs from the across the UK will bring cuisine from their region and compete to serve their menu to the Prince of Wales.
Singh, of Edinburgh’s rooftop Oloroso restaurant, has chosen hogget, the meat from a one-year-old-sheep, with peas and carrots to make his posh pie.
The former Royal Yacht Britannia chef said that he wants to dispel the myth that Scotch pies cannot be a delicacy.
He said: “When done well a Scotch pie can be absolutely superb.
“The problem is that loads of people are scared to eat what they actually enjoy.
“Smell and taste evoke the strongest responses in your memory and Scotch pie is a dish which nearly everyone knows and remembers.
“I don’t know anyone who was brought up on foie gras and gets a craving for it when they think about home.”
Singh will also showcase his pigeon and lobster dish and rhubarb and custard dessert while on the programme.
Michael Smith, of the Skye eatery the Three Chimneys, is making his Scotch pie with minced Highland beef served with winkles.
His menu also includes Scots favourites, including mussels, potato scones, lamb with haggis and turnip and strawberry shortbread with whisky cream for dessert.
He said: “My intention is to show a dish that is traditional, delicious and widely known and loved throughout Scotland.”
“The Scotch pie deserves to be celebrated as part of our rich food heritage and I want to bring it to the widest possible audience.
“I want to show that they can be made from 100 per cent natural ingredients and make people think twice about them.
“The Scotch pie is not just for football supporters and guys coming out of the pub late on a Saturday night.”
Alan Stuart, founder of the World Scotch Pie Championships and the Scotch Pie Club, said: “It may not be haute cuisine, but a properly made pie can be hugely enjoyable.”
“It is good, honest fare without a hint of pretension about it.
“Until fairly recently people used to automatically associate the Scotch pie as an embodiment of the poor Scottish diet.
“There was an image of an unshaven, overweight guy with a pie in one hand, a bottle of Irn-Bru in the other and a fag in his mouth. It was completely unfair and we have worked hard to turn that around.”
The Scotch pie, made from minced mutton with beef and spiced with pepper, has had a revival recently after chefs at top London restaurant Boisdale put it on their menu this year.
The £12.50 pies won over English diners and the dish sold out overnight.
Neil Churchill, the restaurant’s head chef, said: “People can’t get enough of them, particularly in this weather.”