Britain does comfort food pretty well. Fish and chips, cottage pie, roast dinners…they’re hearty, warming dishes designed to feel like a massive hug on a plate.
But the majority involve some kind of meat or fish. And with more and more of the UK embracing a plant-based diet – or just cutting down on the amount of animal products they consume – some households are finding themselves in the position of having to cater for vegans and non-vegans in the same hearty meal.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to prepare different meals for different people for the same meal fills me with dread – I mean, it’s hard enough cooking ONE meal with a three-year-old under my feet. But Bristol-based Pieminister has an answer.
They’ve launched their Moo vs Mooless Mothership Kits for home delivery: 4 pies, and accompanying mash, minty peas, gravy, crispy onions and cheese, for the sum of £36 – £9 per serving. And they’ve thrown in a bottle of their spicy ketchup too.
Each kit includes two of their Moo pies (British steak and craft ale), and two of their Mooless Moo pies (jackfruit ‘steak’, craft ale and black pepper). The mash is vegan, the gravy is vegan (it’s of the red wine and onion variety), and the cheese is too – it’s a Violife number made from coconut oil, they told me when asked.
They deliver on Thursdays if you order by midnight on the previous Sunday, and deliveries come via DPD, with a one-hour time slot sent to you via SMS on the Thursday morning. And when my kit arrived, it was perfectly packaged in a liner bag with insulating wrap and ice packs to keep it all cool.
The pies themselves were in regular Pieminister packaging, with the mash, gravy and peas in plastic bags, and the cheese and crispy onions in cardboard pots. There was also a leaflet that detailed cooking instructions on the front, and allergy info, ingredients and nutritional information on the back, as well as details of how to recycle all the packaging (and all but the mash, pea and gravy pouches can be recycled, which is pretty impressive!)
The recommended shelf life for the Moo vs Mooless Mothership Kit is seven days, which makes perfect sense with weekly delivery dates. And cooking it all couldn’t be easier. The pies just get shoved in the oven for 25 minutes, while the mash, peas and gravy can either be microwaved or boiled in the bag, and then it’s time to assemble and eat!
And obviously, I assembled it just like the pic on the leaflet, it looked pretty good! But how did it all taste? And were the Pieminister Mooless pies just as good as the Moo?
The sides were mostly really good. The gravy was thick and rich, and the minty peas a good mix of mushy and whole, with a decent zing from the herb. You can’t beat a good sprinkle of crispy onions, and these were crunchy, salty and delicious – and even the vegan cheese was good. I say “even the vegan cheese” because the majority of my experiences with vegan cheese have been disappointing (to put it mildly), and while it was easy enough to tell that this wasn’t REAL cheese, the flavour was actually pretty enjoyable.
The only disappointment amongst the sides was the mash. There was a decent amount of it there, but the texture just wasn’t right (it just didn’t stick together like regular mash does), and it tasted pretty oily to me.
The pies, though? They were a different matter. I’ve had the Moo before and it didn’t disappoint this time either: both bigger and smaller chunks of tender beef in a rich, peppery gravy studded with pieces of carrot – and a sturdy pastry that allowed it not only to travel and be cooked with no foil or other protective packaging, but which also coped with the weight of the peas etc on top when I served it!
The Mooless pie was a revelation. Same great quantity of filling, same peppery flavour – and although the gravy didn’t taste quite as rich as that of its meaty counterpart, it was still thick and plentiful. And the jackfruit may not taste or have quite the same mouthfeel as a chunk of beef, but it looks near enough the same, and provided more texture and heartiness than many other plant-based pie fillings, without needing to resort to soya or tofu-based meat alternatives.
So much so, in fact, that despite being very much an omnivore, I’d happily enjoy the Mooless pie again. Vegan food really has changed a LOT since it first started becoming more popular, and it’s great to see that Pieminister are doing it so well!