I swore when making this here pie that I would never attempt pastry again.
No, that's not a positive way in to this, but it is the truth. I think that making pastry on a baking hot day is anyway only mere steps away from full-blown madness, but I had to otherwise we'd have no pie for May. In addition to the heat, the phone would NOT STOP ringing. Sales calls. Recorded messages. The lot. I thought I was going to have to kill myself when I came back after the last call I bothered to answer (stopping to wipe my hands and de-flour and butter myself, as I had done for each and every one of the other calls) to find that my second batch of pastry (for the pie lid) had dried out in the heat and would not roll out.
But I didn't. I just ran out to the Co-Op and bought a sheet of puff pastry. I wasn't about to make more of my own shortcrust - far too frustrated for that.
Anyway, this month's pie is a butter pie, special delicacy of the North West of England. Not the bit that I am actually from, but the bit slightly further up where my family had the greengrocers. It's a butter pie!
Butter pie is basically just buttered potatoes and onions baked in pastry. Yup. That's it. I know how that sounds, but just think about how good tortilla is for it's simple savoury goodness, and you're there.
Wikipedia tells us that:
The butter pie is thought to have been created for workers from Lancashire's Catholic community, to consume on days (mainly Friday) when meat could not be eaten. To older generations, they are sometimes known as 'Catholic pies' or 'Friday pies'.
I have never heard them called either of those things, but thankfully, I am not yet a member of 'the older generation'. I've also never seen them served 'on a barm cake', but that would be something special!
I made this recipe up, and I think anyone making a butter pie would just use whatever quantities fit their dishes. I think if I made it again though, I wouldn't bother making the pastry, as although it's traditional to make it with shortcrust, the puff was lovely. And obviously, nobody ever makes that themselves.
Apologies for the poor quality photos. I was stressed in the kitchen for this!
Ee up duck, let's gerron wit' recipe.
You will need:
shortcrust pastry made with half butter/half Trex or lard (for a short crust, aptly enough), or use bought puff pastry
salt and pepper
- Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Boil until just soft; drain.
- Fry the chopped onion in plenty of butter. Go slowly, and don't let it brown.
- Line a pie dish with pastry.
- Layer the potatoes and onions in the lined pie dish. Add LOTS of salt and pepper, and dot with more butter. Be generous.
- Use the leftover pastry to make a pie lid. Bake in a 200°C oven until browned and piping hot throughout. Mine took about 45 minutes.
- Serve hot or cold, in generous slices.