Don’t be afraid to cook the onions until they’re dark, sticky and marmalade-like – it’s their sweetness that balances the potent mixture of cheeses.
British cheese and onion puffs
- Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus chilling
- Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus chilling
1 tbsp vegetable oil
30g unsalted butter
3 onions, finely sliced
3 red onions, finely sliced
½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp English mustard powder
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
25g pack chives, chopped
75g mild Cheshire cheese, crumbled
75g mild Lancashire cheese, crumbled
50g extra mature cheddar, grated
2 x 375g blocks all butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, covered, over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until they soften. Uncover, add the honey and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, until starting to caramelise.
2. Add the flour and mustard powder, then cook for 2-3 minutes, before adding the vinegar and 300ml water. Bring to the boil, scraping up any sticky bits from the base of the pan, then simmer briskly for 20-25 minutes, stirring until thick, dark and sticky. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely before adding the chives and cheeses.
3. Preheat the oven to 220˚C, gas mark 7. On a floured surface, roll 1 pastry block to a large rectangle and trim to 30cm x 25cm. Cut into 6 equal rectangles and place on a large baking tray. Divide the cheese-and- onion mixture between them, leaving a 1.5cm rim around the edges; chill for 10 minutes.
4. Roll the remaining pastry block to a larger rectangle and trim to 40cm x 30cm, then cut into 6 equal rectangles. Brush the rims of the bases with the beaten egg and lay the larger rectangles over the top. Crimp the edges and trim them to seal. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and use a pair of scissors to snip 2-3 slits into the top of each puff, to let steam escape. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and piping hot. Serve with piccalilli and mixed leaves, if liked.