Saturday, 2 February 2013
Recreating perfection - Lancashire Cheese and Onion Pie
So, Phill's birthday came around again and because he is notoriously difficult to buy for (I ended up buying him a winch. Don't ask...) I decided to cook him a meal of his choice. Cooking something special for someone is a great present to give, if you ask me. Anyway, I have already tried to take Phill back to his Aunt Renie's cooking by trying to make a cheese, onion and potato pie which was really, really nice but not quite like his Auntie Renie. Now, there is an argument that I would never quite make it, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try, so, some people on their birthday get diamonds, a sports car - Phill gets a cheese and onion pie. But it WAS as good as his Auntie Renie's, so he says. Unless he was just being kind...
Phill's observation was that when I put mashed potato in the original pie to bulk it out, it took away from the cheese and onion flavour, which I suppose is correct. Phill likes really strong flavours. After watching Simon Hopkinson on his show, 'The Good Cook' cook a Lancashire cheese and onion pie, and Phill salivating whilst he was making it, I decided to try this recipe. It uses Lancashire cheese, which, I confess, is not my favourite, but when it was cooked with the onions it mellows a little and produced a beautiful, creamy but sharp, oniony filling. Yum, frankly. And seeing as he is a Lancashire chap, really quite apt.
I have included the pastry recipe below. I confess I used some shortcrust pastry that I had frozen months previously. Whisper it - I bet you could buy some shop bought decent pastry to do this with, especially if pastry frightens you. It still makes me a little bit scared...
Cheese and Onion Pie, adapted from Simon Hopkinson's 'The Good Cook'
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad plus one other, generously
My adaptations in red:
For the pastry (which I didn't make as I had some shortcrust already made)
60g/2oz butter, cut into small pieces
60g/2oz lard, cut into small pieces
200g/7oz self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
For the filling:
3 onions, roughly sliced
salt and freshly ground white pepper (I used black - I quite like black specs of pepper!)
250g/9oz Lancashire cheese, coarsely grated
milk, for sealing and glazing (I used a beaten egg)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and place a baking tray in the oven to heat through.
For the pastry, place the butter and lard into a large bowl with the flour and salt. Gently rub the fat into the flour using finger tips until the texture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. Alternatively use a food processor to bind the fat and flour.
Add 2-3 tbsp ice cold water to bind the mixture. Lightly knead the dough until well amalgamated, dust with flour and place into a sealable plastic bag. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using. If you are in a rush, you can use the dough straightaway.
Or - use some pastry that you might already have, like I did, or buy some ready made.
For the filling, heat the butter in a saucepan and fry the onions for 10 minutes, without colouring.
Stir in 150ml/5fl oz water, salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the onions, spread out onto a plate and set aside to cool.
Roll out two-thirds of the pastry until it is about 0.5cm/¼in thick and line a greased 20cm/8in loose-bottomed tart tin, leaving any excess pastry overhanging the edge.
Now roll out the remaining pastry to a similar thickness which will also be generously wide enough to use as a lid to the pie. Cover the base of the pie with half of the onions and then cover with half the grated cheese.
Repeat the layering process until all the mixture is used up.
Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid for the pie. Brush the edges of the pastry case with milk to seal the pastry lid upon it, while also pressing the edges together lightly before trimming off any excess overhang.
Brush the surface of the pie with milk (or egg). Make three small incisions into the centre of the pie using the point of a sharp knife and, if you wish, further decorate to make a lattice effect.
Place the pie into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and leave for a good 20-30 minutes before un-moulding and cutting into generous wedges.
with roast potatoes and cabbage!!!
Serve the pie warm or at room temperature (not piping hot).
Apologies for the lack of 'method' photos. I am, what I call, 'between cameras', and I deleted the method photos. Stupid woman.