Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cheese & Caramelized Onion Pie

 This is a handsome pie; I well remember as a child when watching the David Lean film of Great Expectations thinking how special the pie at the smithy was. That pie no doubt had meat in it and they would turn up their noses at an offering containing only cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and some left over potato, they would be missing out however, this pie is delicious. I put in copious amounts of white pepper, I'm on a campaign to bring it back into favour. The pastry I used was a pack of all butter puff pastry, the other good pastry to use would be the more traditional hot water paste, both have the ability to provide crunch. Short crust would be too crumbly, especially if it's good short crust.

To make this pie you will need,
I pack of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
340g of cooked potatoes grated
220g of mature cheddar cheese grated
220g of caramelized onions
a little oil and butter to fry the onions
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt and pepper (both white and black)
1 egg beaten to glaze the top of the pie
These measurements may seem a bit random and indeed they are, they're what I had and they fitted my tin 16 centimeters by 6 centimeters, perfectly. I'm sure you can adjust things to suit yourself when it comes to making such a pie.

Begin by caramelizing the onions. I sliced around 250g of onions and in a pan added them with the oil and butter, a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of Marigold Bouillon powder and some coarsely ground black pepper, if you are not using the vegetable stock powder, use half a teaspoon of salt. Caramelizing the onions needs to be done slowly so that they they become a slick of golden brown. I took at least 40 minutes on a low heat and stirred every 10 minutes or so, you'll find the process speeds up a little towards the end of the cooking process and you need to keep a close eye on them as they cook gently in a covered pan. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, take the rolled out puff pastry and on a well floured surface roll it out a little thinner, cut off enough to make the lid to your pie. I sliced off a quarter of the pastry and ended up folding it in half and rolling it out a second time to get a piece the right size. If you're using hot water paste, it's easy enough to fit the pastry more precisely though you need to work quickly. Using puff pastry involves a certain amount of folding stretching and squeezing to make the stuff fit.

When the onions are cool, place them in a large bowl with the grated cheese and the grated potato. At this point you really could be adding any cooked vegetables you like, but I always advise following a recipe reasonably closely first before making it your own, that way you'll be able to blame me if anything goes wrong. Mix the ingredients together well with lots of freshly ground white pepper, pile it into the prepared tin lined with pastry, and press it down, The filling is going to sink rather than expand so pressing down is good to avoid that gap which I think always makes a pie look less generous than it should. Finally place on the lid, decorate with leaves created from the left over bits of pastry, my chickens will enjoy the rest of mine. Brush with beaten egg and place the tin in a moderate oven 170C for an hour. The pie should come out a glorious golden brown. Leave the pie in the tin for a good hour before unmoulding. And there you have it, my handsome cheese and caramelized onion pie, why the potato doesn't get mentioned in the title I will never know.

This pie makes a brilliant addition to any picnic.
The filling for this pie can give you an opportunity to be creative, there is no reason why you can't include pretty much any cooked vegetable, I think when you begin to add raw vegetables, although the hour in the oven will no doubt cook the vegetables sufficiently, you will have no control over how much liquid cooking the vegetables produces, the shape and consistency will also alter. Using cooked onions, cheese and cooked potato ensures the filling is going to remain reasonably similar to how it went in, the only difference being the melting of the cheese.  


  1. To paraphrase George Takei "Oh MYYYY!". You just gave me Steve's evening meal and a guaranteed kudos point in the process in one fell swoop. What a beautiful pie!

    1. Thank you and Bon appetite, best wishes Tôbi.

  2. Great advice on "using cooked onions and cooked potato....." to avoid soggy puff pastry at the bottom.!
    I also spread a film of eggwhite on the pastry before adding any filling, to prevent moisturizing the pastry.

  3. Hello Ivana, thank you for your comment, it's true that using the cooked vegetables does avoid any soggy bottom, I find mushrooms benefit most from this, they yield so much liquid when they are cooking. I agree the use of egg white works well as does egg yolk. I hope you have a splendid Christmas in Croatia, best wishes Tôbi