The tin is lined with uncooked puff pastry dough. Filling is put in, then a top layer of puff pastry put on, then the tin sealed with a top.
To eat them, you cut the top off the tin, and then you bake them right in their tin in the oven for about 35 minutes. The puff pastry puffs and browns, and the filling inside heats up. The filling is already cooked.
Flavours available include Mince Beef and Onion, Steak and Kidney, Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Ale Pie, and Chicken and Mushroom. Many of the gravies used have OXO in them.
The tinned pies are easy to store, and provide a quick, tasty meal. It is really easy to have them turn out gorgeous looking.
You use a rotary can opener to open it, leaving the rim. The pastry looks soggy when you first open the tin, but it will come out perfect. When it’s cooked, the pastry will be flaky, and a dark-golden brown. It does best in a regular oven. That is to say, not a fan-assisted aka convection oven, and certainly not the microwave, as the pastry won’t cook properly. And, you can’t use a toaster oven — you are cooking puff pastry.
The pies do not contain any genetically modified ingredients. They used to, but under Campbell’s ownership, they were removed.
The town of Fray Bentos in Uruguay was founded in 1859 (some sources say 1857) as Villa Independencia. It was renamed to Fray Bentos in honour of a local religious hermit priest whose name that was (actually “Fraille Bento”, meaning “Brother” Bento) who lived in a cave on the site. It is a port at the mouth the Uruguay River, opening onto the Buenos Aires bay on the Atlantic ocean.
It’s only (160 km) 100 miles north as the crow files from Buenos Aires in Argentina. The 1996 population was 22,600. It’s main industry is still meat processing.
The Fray Bentos Pies product line started in 1873 with tinned corned beef, made by the Liebig company in Fray Bentos.
The pies were made there as well. It was a company town. It was a model town, not an industrial looking town at all. There is a bandstand in the middle of the town, and a cathedral. In World War II, the factory employed 5,000 people.
1958 – production of the meat pies switched from Uruguay to England
1964 – Fray Bentos operations provide jobs for 40,000 people
1964 – their tinned corned beef was blamed for a typhoid outbreak in Aberdeen, Scotland. The cause was traced to impure water being used in processing at the Villa Independencia plant in Uruguay. Three people died. This caused Fray Bentos name a great deal of harm.
1993 – the company was acquired by Campbell’s;
The corned beef is still made today in South America, but in Brazil instead.
For a fuller discussion of the company’s history, see the entry on Liebig’s Extract of Meat.
In March 1998, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency cracked down on British foods imported to Canada which they said didn’t meet their safety standards. Fray Bentos pies fell prey to the Canadian food police in their swoop and crackdown, but the pies were in good company: other British goods which meant British and EU health standards but which weren’t good enough for the Canadian bureaucrats included Bisto, Bovril, and Heinz soups and baked beans.
The offending items were also missing French on the packaging. French products having no English, though, were not touched in the swoop.
Rowe, Mark. Uruguay: Who made all the pies? Welcome to Fray Bentos. The Independent. London. 9 July 2001.