One of the best things about the Christmas period is that you have an excuse to make recipes like this cheese and onion plait (in case you needed an excuse).
It’s not exactly health food – in fact it’s more of a carb fest, with plenty of cheese thrown in for good measure. But that’s what Christmas is for, no?
My favourite thing about this recipe is that it looks super fancy – serve this up to your family at Christmas and even your great uncle Jim who thinks vegetarians are weird will be impressed – they don’t ever need to know that making the plait shape is actually really easy.
All you need to do is to shape your filling into a log down the middle of your pastry, then make slits at an angle on either side (…the photo below will do a much better job at explaining). Then, alternating from side to side, just fold one strip at a time across the cheesy filling, sticking it down with a little bit of milk.
The whole process is extremely forgiving, so don’t worry if you’re not the neatest person in the world (who, me?)! If you need to, you can pull and stretch the strips right over the filling. It doesn’t matter if you pull them out of shape a bit. Once it’s all puffed up you shouldn’t be able to tell – and even if you can, nobody’s going to be inspecting your handiwork too carefully! The overall effect is still something pretty impressive.
Of course, this cheese and onion plait isn’t only about looking good – it tastes amazing too! Oodles of sautéed onions and mature cheddar cheese, all held together by smooth mashed potato. It’s like a huge cheese and onion pasty – but much more elegant!
Don’t forget the gravy!
- 600 g potatoes I left mine unpeeled
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 onions halved then sliced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp milk plus more for glazing the pastry
- 150 g cheddar cheese grated
- Black pepper
- Plain flour for dusting
- 250 g puff pastry
Cut the potatoes into chunks, and boil in a pan of water until very soft.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, until very soft but not browned.
When the potatoes are soft, drain them, and add the 2tbsp of milk. Mash to your desired consistency. Add the onions and grated cheese, and mix well. Season with some salt and plenty of black pepper. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle - I used a pre-rolled sheet, but still rolled it out a little further. Shape the potato filling into a log along the centre of the pastry, leaving a few inches of pastry along two opposite sides, and just a centimetre or so along the other two sides.
Using a sharp knife, cut the excess pastry at a slight angle into strips (my strips were about 1cm wide) - see photos. Alternating from side to side, fold the strips across to the centre of the filling, and stick them down with a dab of milk. Tuck the ends in neatly, again sealing with a little milk (you might need to cut of a bit of excess pastry at the ends).
Brush the whole plait lightly with milk, and bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.
Do you like a pastry-based Christmas meal? Try my veggie en croute: