I was going to start by saying this is an hommage to Fromage Homage, but then I got bogged down in the etymological differences between homage and hommage and whether you pronounce it hommidge or om-ahj, so let me just say this post was inspired by FH, who has just made rather delicious-looking cheese pasties with elephant garlic and sorrel.
With neither giant garlic nor sorrel to hand, I made a different filling, then thought it would be excellent as the stuffing for a pithivier. This is a round enclosed pie decorated with spiralling lines, traditionally filled with almond paste, often with fruit such as cherries. But there are lots of savoury recipes too.
The pithivier is French in origin – this is a very English version. In fact, let’s be honest, it’s a ponced-up cheese and potato pie but none the worse for that. It’s good warm or cold and would make fabulous picnic food. I used 8g of sage leaves but my sage was young and tender and freshly picked. If you’re not sure about the strength of your sage, use less and taste the mix. As always, you can add more, but you can’t take it out.
Cheese, Sage and Onion Pithivier
400g floury potatoes, peeled, boiled, and diced (it’s fine if they break up a bit)
250g onions, peeled and finely diced
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp butter and a splash of olive oil
200g mature Cheddar, grated
100g Parmesan, grated
8g fresh sage leaves, picked from the stems, chopped finely
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of water
About 750g puff pastry
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Melt the butter with the oil in a pan and add the onions and garlic. Put on a lid and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden but not browned.
In a large bowl, mix together the chopped cooked potato, grated cheeses, sage and half the beaten egg. Stir in the onions when they’ve cooled down.
Roll out your pastry 4 mm thick and cut two circles, one of approximately 27cm for the base and one slightly larger, around 30cm, for the top.
Mound the filling on the base sheet, leaving a 2cm border. Paint the border with some of the leftover egg.
Place the larger piece of pastry on the top and crimp the edges between thumb and forefinger then knock up from out the outer edge between the pleats with the blunt end of a knife to get a scalloped effect.
Using a knife, score a radiating sunbeam pattern on the top of the pithivier, starting at the centre and curving out towards the edge, taking care not to cut right through the pastry. Paint the pie with egg wash and cut a small hole in the centre for the steam to escape.
Place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the filling is piping hot. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before eating. Good with a crisp green salad.
Check other cheese and herb recipes at this month’s Cheese, Please! Challenge at Fromage Homage.