A WINDERMERE butcher who said he would bake 24 hours a day if he could has picked up two more awards for his pork pies.
John Nicholl, who runs Huddleston’s Butchers on Crescent Road with his wife Elspeth, has scooped many accolades for his savoury treats.
And his latest triumph was gold for his small pork pie and hooped pork pie at the BPEX North West Product Evaluation Awards, held in Bolton.
Mr Nicholl said he enjoys the baking side of his business more than the butchering, and that extends to acting as chef at home.
“I really like cooking, even after a hard day’s work,” he said. “I find it a relaxing thing to do at home. And I love baking. I would do it all the time if I could.”
The Nicholls took over the shop in 1988 and branched out into pie production around 20 years ago.
But John said it was not uncommon to find butchers making their own pastry.
“Actually most butchers have had to diversify into things like making pies because selling fresh meat has not been as busy as it used to be,” he said. “In these times people want quick and easy food that they know is good quality and good value, which is why they sell so well.
“We used to buy pies in frozen to sell but they had no filling in them. So we invested in new machinery to make our own.
“Now we go through about half a ton of pastry a week and everything is made from scratch – the pastry and fillings, with very little preservatives, no E-numbers or anything.
“It’s a long working day, I go from about 7.30am through to 9.30pm sometimes.”
He said the secret of a good pork pie was in the quality of the meat, fresh seasoning, good stock for the jelly, and a good pastry.
And his winning hooped pork pies are an art form in themselves.
“They are tricky to make as they are removed from the tin half way through cooking, which results in a nice crispy pastry,” he said.
“It’s all about getting the pastry just right or it will collapse on you.”
Mr Nicholls said he liked to tweak his recipes. He said: “I have found that by entering competitions, it stops you from becoming complacent. A lot of people sit back but I am always pushing myself forward and thinking of new ideas. At the moment we are trying a new product, a pork pie with black pudding.”