My Mother’s Lancashire Cheese & Onion Pie

Inspired by a recipe passed through generations, this Lancashire cheese and onion shortcrust pie is a hearty dish. Serve immediately in generous wedges.

The Good Cook
From the book The Good Cook
Simon Hopkinson
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Introduction

I have, in the past, written various recipes fashioned around this delicious pie, but I don’t think I have ever given the original. Here it is, adapted from her old and slightly battered recipe book, handwritten by Mother. This favourite is one among many others, some having been already handed down by her mother. Well, as it always was, in their day.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pastry:
60g butter
60g lard
200g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling:
25g butter
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 teacupful of water
Salt and plenty of freshly ground white pepper (it does not taste quite correct, using black)
250-300g Lancashire cheese, coarsely grated
A little milk, to both seal and glaze the pastry

Essential kit

You will need a loose-bottomed tart tin (approx. 20cm wide x 4cm deep).

Instructions

To make the pastry, cut the butter and lard into small chunks and place in a large bowl with the flour and salt. Gently rub the fat into the flour using fingertips until the texture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in only just enough water to bind the mixture together. Lightly knead this dough until well amalgamated, dust with flour and slip into a plastic bag. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and also place a flat baking sheet in there, which will help to cook the base of the pie more evenly.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Melt the butter in a roomy pan and add the onions. Allow to quietly wilt and stew for about 10 minutes over a gentle heat without colouring. Tip in the water and seasoning and continue to cook over a similar heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has been driven off. Decant the onions on to a plate, spread them out and allow to cool.

Lightly butter a loose-bottomed tart tin (approx. 20cm wide x 4cm deep). Roll out two-thirds of the pastry moderately thin and use it to line the base and sides of the tin. Now roll out the remainder to a similar thickness and also generously wide enough to use as a lid for the pie. Cover the base of the pie with half the onions and cover with half the grated cheese. Repeat.

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. Make 3 small incisions into the centre of the pie using the point of a sharp knife and, if you wish, further decorate the edges of the crust with the tines of a fork.

Put the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until golden and with a clear indication that tiny oozes of cheese and onion juices are bubbling up through the holes in the middle. Remove from the oven and leave for a good 20-30 minutes before unmoulding and cutting into generous wedges. Best served warm or at room temperature.

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