Cheese & Potato Pie with Gadd’s Dogbolter
The humble cheese pie; often overlooked for more sustaining, edgy ‘meat’ varieties, gets a bad rap. It’s always the bridesmaid or – worse still – shoved onto menus as an afterthought, the trad ‘vegetarian’ option; dull, mealy, and filled with ‘cheese product’ rather than the real thing. Make no mistake – the limp Cheese pie has been dealt a poor hand in life.
At IMBC last year (yeah, it was last year, crazy, huh?), my notes contained as much rhapsodising about Great North Pie Co’s Cheese and Onion Pie as the beer that washed it down. The pastry light and crumbly, the cheese filling silken and perfectly poised, it was an anthem of a pie. And it’s been in my mind ever since.
So, Christmas extravagances out of the way, I spent a relaxing hour making my own cheese pie last weekend. Nowhere near as lithe and graceful and Great North Pie’s, it was, nontheless a robust, hearty meal that brings a smile to your lips and, when paired with a great beer, one half of a very, very accomplished duo.
This recipe makes a medium-sized pie for two; if you’re doing a ‘plate pie’ it’s probably about right for a standard-sized plate, too. Firstly, you’ll need to make your filling. In a large mixing bowl, drop cubed cheese – about 120g in total. You can use whatever cheese you want, but I like to blend a couple (think of it like using aroma & bittering hops, a base note and a top note. Really). I used a toothsome Welsh Cheddar (40g) and a softer, subtler Wensleydale (80g).
Peel 2 medium-sized potatoes, then slice them thinly using a mandolin or grater – watch those fingers. Put the potato to one side, and chop the white part of one small Leek into thin rings. Add the Leek to the cheese, then spoon on 100ml of Creme Fraiche. Season well with white pepper and a pinch of salt.
Grease and line your pie tin with some pastry, leaving it hanging over the edge. layer the Potatoes in the bottom, then add some cheese mix, then layer some more potatoes on top of that. Keep layering the cheese mix and potatoes until you get to the top, then place your lid on top, crimp, and glaze with a beaten egg.
Place in a pre-heated over at 175c for about 40 minutes, watching it carefully. Test for doneness with a skewer – it should go right through cleanly. Leave to cool a little, and you’re done.
My own preference with cheese is almost always dark beers, although a juicy, cold IPA would have been interesting too. But on this occasion I plumped for a bottle of Gadd’s Dogbolter. This 5.8% abv Porter is a bit of an icon – the beer that Eddie Gadd witnessed the birth of; the beer that’s the cornerstone of the Firkin Brewpub empire. It’s still – in my opinion – criminally underrated, passed over for younger pups that don’t have a tenth of the depth of this beer. When in perfect condition – as this bottle was – this rough diamond’s aroma not only carries dusty, powdered chocolate and red berry, but a yeasty, earthy note that gives some hint to the complexity of flavour waiting for you.
Sweet chocolate, smooth, roasted grain which gives toasted bread and fresh coffee, and a surprisingly green, well-hopped finish, it hits all the right notes (and yes, in the right order) to make this beer a perfect match for Cheese and Charcuterie or, in this case, a Cheese pie.