This northern classic ticks all the boxes for outdoor dining this April, as far as I’m concerned – sturdy enough to take to the park, easy to share safely with friends and satisfyingly hearty, because this is spring in St Bees, not St Tropez. You can adapt it to make individual hand pies, if you prefer, but a slab pie is simpler and more traditional.
For the filling4 onions25g butterSalt and pepper1 small bunch fresh chives5 spring onions500g lancashire cheese (see step 2)
For the pastry150g butter400g plain flour½ tsp salt1½ tbsp mustard powderButter or oil, to grease1 egg, to glaze
Peel and slice the onions fairly thinly. Melt the butter for the filling in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring regularly to prevent browning, until they collapse into soft, golden ribbons. This will probably take about 15 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, finely chop the chives and roughly chop the spring onions. Put both in a bowl and crumble in the cheese. (I like the mildly lactic flavour of lancashire here, but cheshire, mild cheddar or any hard cheese will work; go easy on the seasoning if using a stronger variety, though…