WHEN you’re ranked at No.7 in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list the temptation is to ‘gild the lily’ – over-garnish, over-complicate, over-price – which might well banish the likes of pies from the menu. Not so at The Parkers Arms, near Clitheroe.
Good to see then a current Top 50 Gastropubs Tweet, recognising the filled pastry excellence of that country inn: “To celebrate #BritishPieWeek we think it would only be best to share with you the famous Parkers Arms hand raised pie!”
There is no way we are going to share our pie with anyone as we settle in by the fire in one of the pub’s handsome dining rooms (love the deep blue hues).
Each week there’s a different filling. Since Pie Week 2020 (March 2-9 is upon us there’s a choice of two. The first is described by our server Ben as akin to dauphinoise potato in a pie, the second much more likely to hit the spot after an hour’s journey to Bowland lengthened by a road closure – curried hogget in lamb fat pastry.
Hogget is meat from a sheep in its second year, post lamb, pre-mutton. Parkers chef Stosie Madi sources it from the Duchy of Lancaster’s Whitewell Estate down the road.
The Spence family has been breeding sheep at Burholme Farm for over 50 years. Current tenant Rod Spence is chairman of the Lonk Sheep Breeders Association. You may recall Northcote’s Nigel Haworth using lamb from this hardy breed for his triumphant Great British Menu hot-pot.
A great Burholme selling point now is the dedicated butchery at the farm, so they can guarantee the quality of their meat at every stage of the process. Which is perfect for Stosie, whose rise as a chef has been built on such cut-above raw materials.
But curried in a pie? Fear not, the tender filling is subtly spiced. Still it is merely the canvas for superlative hot water pastry, the essential rendered fat for which is also Burholme-sourced. OK, this is a pie that costs £19, which might sound steep even when accompanied by triple-cooked chips or mash, gravy and a pot of veg.
Be assured it’s more than worth it, especially if you order it as part of a £30 three course lunch offer.
After starters of Cornish anchovies with blood orange and confit mushrooms with lemon parfait on sourdough we also share braised local rabbit in mustard sauce and each finish with two 70% chocolate melting puddings with cream.
A brambly Cotes du Rhone, La Chapelle du Marin, was a perfect pie red, supplied by D.Byrne & Sons, the legendary Clitheroe wine merchants. It’s worth inspecting their cellars en route.
Senegal-born, Gambia-raised Stosie (above), business partner Kathy Smith and her brother AJ took over the pub 13 year ago and have since transformed it, winning a succession of awards. Attention to detail is obvious in everything they do. It takes a truly serious chef to create pies as good as hers. The Parkers should be a magnet for equally serious Manc pie aficionados.
Parkers Arms, Hall Gate Hill, Newton-In-Bowland, Nr Clitheroe BB7 3DY. Closed Mon and Tue. 01200 446236. Dog-friendly, too, with accommodation.
Check out Taste of Manchester’s Top Pie Tips here.