A little taste of Lancashire

Boiled Onions with Lancashire Cheese and Poached Egg

I bought Simon Hopkinson’s new book, ‘The Vegetarian Option‘ at the start of the year, in an attempt to broaden my culinary outlook and provide new dishes to keep my veggie friends happy. Well, that was part of the reason: Hopkinson’s one of my very favourite food writers, and the next best thing to sitting down with a warming meal in the winter is curling up with a great cookbook. Happily this is as good I as expected; chock-full of wonderfully simple recipes, evoking tastes and memories of warmer, more verdant seasons. That’s not to say he neglects winter staples in favour of summery salads: there are some rib-stickingly good sounding suggestions to tantalise the reader’s imagination.

One recipe in particular caught my eye: Boiled Onions with Cheese and Poached Egg. Aye, you read that right… it sounds like the kind of food you might feed an Edwardian invalid, but Hopkinson absolutely raves about it, and the photo next to the listing beckoned invitingly. He’d come by it via the Three Fishes in Mitton, a Lancashire pub with a fine reputation which has been on my ‘to-visit’ list for years. I’ve still not made it there, but tonight I made the dish, and it was everything I could’ve hoped for, and more. Rich, savory, silky and oh-so-comforting. You’ve got to try this.

  • 250g onion
  • 25g butter
  • 175ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a good portion of cheese (preferably tasty or crumbly Lancashire)
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • light pinch of pepper
  • curly parsley to garnish

Chop the onion into small, regular-sized pieces, then add it to the water, butter, seasoning and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring this to the boil, then down to a gentle simmer, covering for 20-30 mins. When the onions are soft and silken, transfer them to a small dish, sprinkle the grated cheese on top and melt under a grill. Don’t let the cheese brown, just let it become molten and coalescent in the broth before garnishing with chopped parsley and a freshly poached egg. Eat while hot.

One last thing: the recipe calls for white-skinned onions and white pepper to keep a traditional appearance and texture. I had neither to hand, but it still tasted and looked great.

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4 replies
  1. iain
    iain says:

    hmm, still not convinced by eggs in onion water, but it does lead me to think aboot french onion soup, which me mam used to make in the 70’s. will discuss with her and get onioning.

  2. Graham
    Graham says:

    Hi my late grandmothers recipe. boiled onions and cheese with brown bread and butter.

    boil an onion that has been roughly chopped for 20/30 min, drain add 2/3 oz Lancashire crumbly, blend with crinkle cut chip chopper, pile into pyrex casserole lid and grill till brown. eat with brown bread and butter( make butties)!

  3. Mister North
    Mister North says:

    Thanks Graham… sounds like that’d make a cracking butty, especially with massive doorstop slices of bread and some lovely butter!

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  1. […] at 180℃ as you want the onions to be meltingly soft. If you wanted to add a bit of crumbly Lancashire cheese and breadcrumbs do it about 10 minutes before the end and take the foil off to crisp it all […]

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