The British love a savory pie. But of course they say savoury. Some of the most cherished pies in my repertoire find their inspiration in these traditional savouries. Quite a few of them (not surprisingly) get their comfort from potatoes, whether baked inside or mashed and rosti topped. There’s power in those pies. Here is an example of a favorite English countryside pie full of big flavor; starting with the cheese. Cheddar is an English cheese that has been imitated the world over. Great examples can now be found in many different countries. But if you can, I suggest you honor this pie and its roots by choosing an authentic English Cheddar. Many are still made by traditional methods on the farm. English Farmhouse Cheddar Onion Pie.
- pie pastry (enough for a double crust 9‑inch pie)
- 2 waxy potatoes such as red (peeled & cut into ¼‑inch dice, about 2‑cups)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ large onion (peeled and cut into ¼‑inch dice, about 1‑cup)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ teaspoon English mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for potatoes)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cup coarsely grated English farmhouse-style white Cheddar cheese
- flour for rollling
- 1 large egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water (as egg wash)
Prepare pastry dough of your choice. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 discs– one about 6‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick, the other about 4‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate least 1 hour (or up to 2 days), or freeze up to 1 month.
Put diced potatoes into a medium-sized bowl, cover with cool water. Allow them to soak 10 minutes in order to leach out some of the starch. Drain them, then transfer to a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with salted water until the potatoes are just submerged. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Starting with cool water ensures the potatoes will cook evenly. Drain potatoes, letting them cool in the colander.
Melt butter in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add diced onion, stirring until well softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape them into the colander with the potatoes to come to room temperature.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, parsley, mustard, cayenne and salt & pepper. Stir in cheese, room temperature potatoes and onion. Set filling aside.
Place oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out larger disc of chilled dough to a 12 to 13-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half, and slide it onto the rolling pin. Transfer to a 9‑inch pie pan. Unfold the dough, easing it gently into the pie pan; do not stretch the dough. Spoon prepared filling into the pie shell, spreading it evenly with the back of the spoon. Brush egg wash along the rim of shell.
Roll out second disc of dough on a freshly floured surface using a freshly floured rolling pin to about an 11-inch round a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold the dough in half and slide it onto the rolling pin. Transfer it to the top of the filled pie pan. Trim edges of pie, leaving a ½‑inch overhang, then fold the edges under and press together; flute or crimp decoratively. Refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Brush top of pie lightly with egg glaze and sprinkle with kosher salt. Use the point of a sharp knife to pierce 6 or 8 steam vents decoratively into the top crust. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and bake in heated oven until golden brown, about 50 minutes.
Allow pie to cool on a rack at least 30 minutes. Slice into 8 wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.