Last week, I made Simon Hopkinson’s Cheese and Onion pie in celebration of national pie week. I can’t recommend it highly enough. This pie is really tasty and simple to make, and even easier if you use ready-made shortcrust pastry from the shop.
Last summer, when I watched Simon Hopkinson make this on the Good Chef, I thought that he made it seem so irresistably tasty and simple. I don’t think that I’d made a savoury shortcrust pastry pie before this one (correct me if your memory is better than mine). If you want to simplify it with shop-bought shortcrust pastry and don’t count seasoning, then I count 3 cheap and easy to obtain ingredients that go into this pie: cheese, onions, pastry.
Okay, so I realise that the phrase ‘shop-bought shortcrust pastry’ keeps coming up. Reserve your judgement please. I’m making a stand for all of us who struggle to make shortcrust pastry from scratch without it falling apart. I hadn’t realised that there was so much disdain out there for those of us who buy blocks of ready made shortcrust pastry. But when I put them on the conveyor belt at Tesco’s, the cashier and the lady in front of me in the queue immediately tut-tutted me for not making it myself. “It’s so simple, you know to make it at home. You just put it in the food processor and it’s done.” No, believe me! It’s not that simple. I tried your method and Simon’s method and it ended up falling apart like a patchwork quilt. See what a disaster it was the only time I tried making the pastry from scratch.
1. Blissful ignorance of the disaster to come; 2. Look – the pastry even looks sad!; 3. and it all falls apart.
Note to self: practise making pastry.
Since the summer, I’ve already made this pie four times and I’m no cheese-lover. So I’m pretty much saying that, I love this pie. Admittedly, having watched Simon Hopkinson’s video again, my onions look browner and my pastry more soggy. Even so. I’m choosing to imagine that this pie will get scrummier and scrummier the more I practice making it.
So here’s the yummy Simon Hopkinson’s Cheese and Onion Pie. It does take a while… so choose a moment when you don’t mind waiting at least 2 hours from start to finish.
First step in this pie making is sorting out the pastry side of things. I’ll give you the ingredients for the pastry a la Simon Hopkinson, which means that I’ve got a note of it to attempt it at another time. If you’ve decided on the ready-made stuff then don’t forget to preheat the oven at this stage and grease your pie dish. (read below)
Ingredients for the pastry
- 60g/2oz cold butter, diced into small pieces
- 60g/20z lard, diced into small pieces
- 200g/7oz self-raising flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2-3 tbsp of very, very, very cold water
Alternatively… a 350g block of ready-made shortcrust pastry. Last time, I bought the ready rolled stuff because it was on offer. Tee hee….
Method for the pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and grease a pie dish 20cm wide. I have used both a pryex pie dish and a loose-bottomed deep flan dish.
2. Place the butter, lard, flour and salt in a food processor and mix until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Alternatively place the ingredients in a large bowl and with your fingertips, gently rub the fat into the flour so that it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. You don’t want to be making them too fine because that means that the fat gets too warm.
3. Add 2tbsp of water to bind the mixture. If it looks a bit dry then add in one more tbsp of water.
4. Cut off a third of it and lay it to one side. Roll out the remainder 2/3 of the pastry so that it is 5mm thick and lay it on the pie dish, pressing it against the sides. Remember to prick the bottom of it. Roll out the remaining third of pastry into a circle so that it will cover the pie. Leave it to one side and turn your focus to the pie filling.
Ingredients for the Pie Filling
- 25g/1oz butter
- 3 white onions, sliced
- 250g Lancashire Cheese, grated
- approx 150ml cold water
- Salt & Pepper to season
- milk for sealing and glazing
Method for the Pie Filling
1. Roughly slice the onions, melt butter in the frying pan on a medium heat and add the onions to the pan. Fry the onions on a medium-low heat. Season with lots of pepper and some salt as you do this. Add 150ml water to the pan so that the onions stay moist. Maybe that’s where I go wrong and allow the onions to brown before adding the water. Next time! Once the onions have softened and become translucent, take the pan off the heat and allow the onions to cool down slightly.
2. In the waiting time, grate the cheese.
3. Time to layer up! Add half of the onions and spread them out in the pie. Then add a layer of cheese. Follow with a second layer of onions and another layer of cheese.
4. I sometimes forget this step, but try and remember to brush the rolled out circle of pastry with milk, and lay it milk side down onto the pie to cover the cheese and onion mixture. Gently press the pastry cover on the top and press it against the sides to let the air out and also to seal the pie.
5. Cut off the pastry that’s hanging over with a sharp knife. At this point, I decided to copy Simon and make a pretty pattern on the top of my pastry. It’s not very important to do. What is more important is to make three 1 inch incisions in the pastry so that the air can come out while it’s cooking. Then glaze the top with milk.
6. Bake it in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Take it out and let it cool down for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it and taking a bite.
The verdict? MMMmmmmm… Heavenly.