Cheese, Onion and Potato Pie


1 1/2 lb (700 g) potatoes
3 large onions
275 ml (1/2 pt) 1 1/2 cups milk
6 black peppercorns
1 blade mace
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp (25 g) 1 oz butter
2 level tbsp wholemeal (whole grain) flour
grated rind 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed with a pinch sea salt
225 g (1/2 lb) 2 cups grated Farmhouse (aged) Cheddar cheese
large pinch cayenne pepper
8 green olives, stoned (seeded) and chopped
60 ml (4 tbls) chopped parsley
little butter for greasing large pie dish


1. Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C (400°F).

2. Boil the potatoes in their skins in lightly salted water until they are just tender. When cool slice leaving skin on.

3. Quarter and thinly slice the onions. Put them into a saucepan with the milk, peppercorns, mace and bayleaf.

4. Bring them to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Drain the onions, pressing down well to extract as much liquid as possible.

6. Reserve the milk and discard the peppercorns, mace and bay leaf.

7. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a moderate heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the milk, bring it to the boil, stirring, and let the sauce simmer for 2 minutes.

8. Take the pan from the heat and beat in the lemon rind and garlic and 75 g (3 oz) or 3/4 cup of the cheese.

9. Put half the potatoes into the bottom of a large, greased pie dish or casserole and sprinkle them with a little cayenne pepper, one-third of the remaining cheese and half the olives and parsley.

10. Put in all the onions, the remaining olives and parsley and another third of the cheese.

11. Sprinkle this with a little cayenne pepper and then top with the remaining potatoes.

12. Spoon the sauce over the potatoes and scatter the remaining cheese on top.

13. Put the dish into the oven for 30 minutes so the cheese is melted and bubbling and just beginning to brown.

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