Old-Fashioned Cooking: Onion Pie




In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. Just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.



While we moderns tend to think of pie as a dessert, our ancestors turned all sorts of things into pies, some savory and some sweet. Both might appear on the table at any meal, especially in the days before refrigeration. Once you cooked something, you served it at each meal until it was gone. A single meal might include such diverse items as cold fried chicken, pickles, apple pie, bread and butter, fried ham and hash brown potatoes, with perhaps some sliced cucumbers in summer and boiled beets in winter. Meals followed the seasons, too. In winter, you ate long-keeping foods that you brought up from the root cellar, such as onions, apples and potatoes. If the hens were still laying, you added eggs to this dish. In the late fall, when the pigs were butchered, you might add bacon or sausage. Onion pie falls into the savory category, although the apples provide some sweetness.



Onion Pie


4 small Yukon Gold potatoes


2 large Granny Smith apples


2 medium yellow onions


8 large eggs OR 6-8 slices of bacon, chopped and cooked OR ½ pound sausage cooked just until the pink is gone


3 tsp. Kosher salt


1 tsp. freshly cracked pepper


½ to 1 grated nutmeg


½ to 1 tsp. mace


4 oz. butter


frozen puff pastry or homemade pie crust (I prefer the latter)



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Boil and slice the eggs or cook the meat. Pare and slice the potatoes, apples and onions. Slice everything ¼ inch thick. Place the apples and potatoes in a bowl of water to prevent oxidation. Roll out the bottom crust and set it into the pie pan. Mix the salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace to together in a single bowl. Drain the apples and potatoes and lay on a baking pan covered with a towel. Begin the layers from the bottom up with potatoes, then eggs/meat, followed by apples and then onions. Sprinkle each layer with a little of the seasoning and little bits of butter. Continue filling and seasoning the pie until you are out of ingredients. Put a top crust on the pie and crimp the edges. Cut 4 or 5 slashes on top crust to allow steam to vent out. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.


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