What Is Butter Pie?

Jack Magnus

Butter pie is a dish that originated in Lancashire in Northwestern England. It is said that this dish was created by Catholics living in the area as a meal to eat on Fridays, when they were traditionally prohibited from eating meat. This type of pie is sometimes referred to as a Friday pie or Catholic pie for that reason. A butter pie is made of butter, potatoes and onions that are layered and baked in a pie crust.

Butter, one of the ingredients in butter pie.
Butter, one of the ingredients in butter pie.

To make a butter pie, one slices potatoes and onions that are parboiled until they are soft but not crumbly. They are layered in a pie shell and dotted with butter and spices. Another pastry crust is placed on top of the filling, and the pie is baked. One can make the pie crust from scratch using flour, butter and water, or a pre-made crust can be used.

Zucchini and squash may be featured in butter pie.
Zucchini and squash may be featured in butter pie.

Some butter pie recipes are made with mashed potatoes and onions that have been sauteed until they are golden and translucent. The filling then becomes something similar to that found in a potato knish, which is an Eastern European dish. The dish also has been compared to a Cornish pasty, another savory pie that contains meat, potatoes and turnips. Butter pies are sold in fish and chip shops, as well as grocery stores and sandwich shops.

This dish received some international attention after ex-Beatle Paul McCartney mentioned it in one of his songs, and it is a popular concession at some sporting events. It is frequently served with pickled cabbage or beets. Many people like to use ketchup, tomato sauce or Worcestershire sauce on their butter pie.

These pies are quite popular with vegetarians, because they are meatless savory pies. They can be enhanced with other vegetables, such as zucchini, summer squash and spinach. New flavors can be added through the use of peppers and curry seasonings. Substituting sweet potatoes or yams and adding fruits to this recipe can change it into a dessert pie, especially with the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins.

A version of the butter pie from the American Midwest is made with butter, water, sugar and flour. The mixture is added to a pie shell and baked. Fruits such as apples, peaches, rhubarb and raisins are possible additions and lend a variety of tastes. One also can add a sweet cheese, such as farmer, ricotta or mascarpone, to fill out the flavor and add richness.

Pickled beets are often served with butter pie.
Pickled beets are often served with butter pie.

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