Lancashire ‘Enamel Plate’ Cheese & Onion Pie…

by mathew bose. 1 Comment

I love pie. It’s a bit of a swear word isn’t it these days? Protestations of fat content etc. Fair comment but I’d rather just move about a bit more and cut a calorific corner elsewhere than give up pies. Rummaging through The Mothers stash of stuff (in her Glory Hole! Can you actually believe that the cupboard where all the ‘junk’ is kept, that won’t ever be thrown out, is called that?!? Tee hee…) anyway, rummaging in this…place…I unearthed an enamel plate. ‘For pies’, said The Mother as casual a you like as she dragged on a tab. ‘Those cheese and onion ones you used to love. Well, you did!!’ She adds off my look, which she has mistaken for disbelief at her story instead of disbelief that I’ve not had one of these pies for about thirty years. Thirty bloody years…that I’ll never get back…! Humph.

The Mother’s recipe is: roll out the pastry (‘Of course there’s a double crust! It’s hardly a proper pie without it, is it?!’ Quote, unquote – plus heaps of tutting…) and pile the base with onions cut up small (don’t grate the onions it creates too much water) and grated cheese. Pile it high. Then put a crust layer over this and baste with milk (wouldn’t waste an egg!) and cook it till it’s brown and ready (oh…right…brown and ready…) It’s lovely cold too.’

Hmmm, well, I like a vague recipe as much as the next man but I need a little more. So I did the following but it’s just a starting place so make of it what you will…and I’m not exactly famous for my detailed recipes either but it went something like this…

First, of course, there’s the plate! If you don’t have a rellie that hoards everything then they are available to buy if you want the authentic feel. http://www.lakeland.co.uk/in-the-kitchen/baking/bakeware/pie-dishes and http://homecookonline.com/index.php/enamelware-1.html have them. The one I am using is a 26cm one…or just use something else…don’t stress it…

I sliced and sautéed the onions (1 good size (bigger than medium but not supersized!) white onion and a couple of small/medium sized red onions – sliced)…

…with the teeniest bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and flung the herbs in (pinches of various herbs – I used thyme, oregano, tarragon and basil as that’s what I found and couldn’t decide between them so used them all!) and ‘sweated’ them down. Meanwhile I rolled out the pastry (250g of short crust pastry – yes I could make my own but I can’t be naffed. So beat me…on the bottom…with some wet celery) and eased it onto the plate (buttered!)…

…I cut away the excess and rolled out the ‘top’. When the onions had kindly agreed to break down and were translucent with excitement I mixed them in a bowl with the grated cheese (150g mature cheddar)…

…Piled this high as instructed (so biddable) and then put the top crust over this. I bathed the top in milk (in agreement with the ‘wouldn’t waste an egg’ comment)…

…and put it in an oven at about 200 degrees for about 35 – 40 minutes…or might have been less…or more…just till it was brown and ready!

Then for goodness sake, that’s enough faffing about…eat it….!

Cheese can be a wonderful source of calcium, phosphorous and protein but it comes at a saturated fat and high salt content price, in most cases. Some cheese is made with skimmed milk and that decreases its fat quota a bit but ultimately it’s an item you want to eat in moderation and be aware of the variations between the cheeses. For instance Parmesan is lower in fat and highest in calcium and zinc but has much more salt.

Onions are high in phytochemicals/phytonutrients (non-nutritive plant compounds that aren’t used for sustaining life but rather for other aspects like protecting the plant, fighting diseases and also colour and scent). The one often mentioned is quercetin which is thought to sweep through the body removing harmful free radicals whilst simultaneously supporting the cardiovascular system, the immune system, bone health and assisting with congestion and fighting mild allergies! Red onions (especially the outer layers) are packed with this and many other wonder compounds too.

One Response to Lancashire ‘Enamel Plate’ Cheese & Onion Pie…

  1. Jan says:

    Our family favourite in Ramsbottom, never saw herbs in this wonderful dish. Apart from that I enjoyed reading this. Oh and.Olive oil? In Lancashire – not in my day and would rather use butter.The ‘save an egg’ made me chuckle too.
    Thank you!.

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