An onion hater & an onion pie
On the menu today, a young girl, a grown woman and a traditional onion pie recipe.
It’s Christmas Eve. The atmosphere is peaceful, filled with hope. The best of holiday music is playing in the background. The house is infused with the wonderful aromas of a turkey roasting in the oven. We’re home prepping Christmas dinner.
I’m 8 or 10 years old. I am standing over my mother’s shoulders. I am watching her every move. What she is doing fascinates me. She’s shaping pie dough into leaves, and also rolling it into tiny balls. A few poinsettias take form. She lays them out perfectly atop her prepared pie before putting it in the oven to bake.
When the baked pie comes out of the oven, I marvel at it, and salivate. A tart that looks this good can only taste heavenly. I forget that my mom warned me that she just made an onion pie. I go to bed dreaming of the slice I will savor the next day.
At dinnertime, my dreams are crushed. The very first bite reminds me of my mother’s warning. She had made an onion pie. This means her tart is actually filled with onions. I quickly spit the whole thing out. Using my fingers, I extract the long slices of onions out of the pie, and show them to my mom with a disappointed look. She shrugs, and reminds me that she had told me. She then suggests that I simply remove the filling, and eat the crust.
I take her recommendation seriously. I cannot let the beautiful crust go to waste. I make sure not even a tiny piece of onion will find its way onto my palate. Everyone around me tells me I am silly but I don’t listen.I am frustrated. Yet, I savor my naked onion pie crust. It is infused with some of the filling but the onion taste is not overwhelming. That is enough consolation for me. In my own way, I get to enjoy the pie that had been floating on my mind since the previous night.
Believe it or not, the above account is exactly how I have been eating onion pies all my life, when the Mornay sauce is not too oniony that is. Sometimes it works out for my palate, others not so much. It often happens that the crust absorbs the taste of the onions, rendering it inedible for me.
I have recently found out that there is a reason why some onion pies are more oniony than others.
There are actually two different ways of making an onion pie.
Some brown the onions, and cook them in the filling. Others, like my mom who has a child who hates onions, prepare the Mornay without onions. They add the onions as garnish atop the creamy and cheesy filling before baking.
Both versions taste great according to onion lovers. The version you select depends on how oniony you want your pie to be. That explains perfectly well why sometimes the crust is to my taste and other times not so much.
I myself opt for the second version of course. It allows me to enjoy the Mornay infused crust without the onion taste. That is the exact pie I am serving you today.
You didn’t actually think I would make an onion pie I would not eat, did you?
Haitian Onion Pie
The tarte à l'oignon (onion pie) is a traditional dish found at formal dinners in Haiti, especially around the Holidays. This version adds the onions at the last minute, but feel free to brown your onions before adding the flour to the Mornay sauce (creamy filling).
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup flour
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 12 oz water
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup grated Tête de Maure cheese
- 1 or 2 medium sized onions sliced
In a pan, melt the butter over low heat
Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes
Remove from heat
Slowly mix in the milk and water stirring vigorously to avoid lumps
Return to the stove, and cook at low heat while stirring until the mixture thickens
Incorporate the grated Tête de Maure
Roll out the pie crust in a pie pan
Dust the crust with flour
Pour the sauce over the pie crust
Top with the onion slices
Bake at 350 until the pie turns golden (30 to 35 minutes)