Liver & Onion Pie
In 1946, my great-grandfather, Norman, turned up outside my Nan's school with his kit bag, uniform, and a smile. He had been away from home for seven years, and letters home had been rare. He walked back to the farm with my Nan on his shoulder and marched triumphantly into an empty house - the family were in the garden picking vegetables. And so it was that there was a muddy reunion amongst the carrots. Great- granddad was expecting a movie style reunion, and he got hugs and tears from the kids. And from Granny Little, a tongue-lashing, a radish to the eye, and a night in the Anderson shelter.
Things had settled down by the next day and Nanny Little didn’t waste any time sending her newly returned husband to town with a shopping list. He returned with more than the ration would normally allow, but this was a special occasion and Norman had a way of persuading people. That day my Nan helped her mum make pastry, line cases, and peel potatoes.
When the Pie was cooked, the family sat in the kitchen asking their dad questions about the war, he answered none of them. He never spoke about his war experiences, and it was only some years later, during one of my mother’s family history binges that we learned that he had ended up in Lower Saxony – the location of the Bergan-Belsen concentration camp.
Whatever had happened to him during the war was pushed aside so that he could enjoy his first dinner back with his family. Where he ate his favourite food and conveniently missing the kids passing liver under the table to their mum who packed it into her pinny pocket.
Serves 4 -6
750g onion, cut into rings
750g lamb’s liver, cut into slices
25g plain flour
1 tbsp. thyme, chopped or fresh
1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped and fresh
500 ml beef stock
Sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry
400g plain flour
90g butter, cut into cubes
90g lard, cut into cubes
pinch ground sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
2/3 tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 2000C
For the pastry, sift the flour and sea-salt into a mixing bowl.
Take the butter and lard and rub it into the flour with your finger-tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre. Mix in the beaten egg to bring the flour and butter into a smooth dough. Add a little milk or flour as needed if wet or dry.
Cover and place the dough in the fridge to chill for twenty minutes.
For the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Fry the onions for 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown. Lay half the onions in the bottom of a large pie dish.
Cut the liver into thin strips about 8cm by 25 cm, discarding any skin or gristle.
Sprinkle the flour and salt onto a plate. Coat the strips of liver in the seasoned flour.Place on top of the onions. Sprinkle the herbs over the top. Repeat the layers of onions and liver, ending with a layer of onions. Pour in enough of the beef stock to just cover the top layer.
Season well with ground sea-salt and pepper.
Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little milk. Take two-thirds of your pastry and roll into a millimetre-thick rectangle. Line the pie dish with this rectangle, using a small piece of the pastry to mould it into the corners.
Roll out the remaining pastry to about 1cm thick
. Cut out a shape large enough to fit over the top of the pie dish.
Put the pastry lid on the pie, seal and crimp the strips of pastry with the pie lid – trim off any excess pastry
Cut a small steam hole and brush over the top of the pie pastry with the beaten egg yolk.
Place the pie on a baking tray and bake in a pre—heated oven at 200C for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes cover the top loosely with foil, turn the heat down to 170C and cook for a further 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven
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