Pukekohe Pie

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Pukekohe pie is a potato dish which was a family favourite when I was growing up. Family barbeques at Nanas house would invariably include a puke pie as the potato side and an asparagus casserole as the warm vegetable side (or creamed mushrooms) as Pop needed a “gravy”. These were in the days when regardless of what we were eating Pop would mash it all together on his plate – so gravy was essential! Strangely – at the age of 89 he no longer does this. Puke pie is a great alternative to roast potatoes, particularly if accompanied by a cauliflower cheese dish. For me, this is comfort food at it’s best. Its also a great dish to serve a large group. It is like a “light” gratin dauphinoise as it doesn’t have cheese or cream. If you wanted a dairy free option you omit the milk and butter and replace with a larger quantity of vegetable or chicken stock – this, when garnished with fresh thyme is known as Boulangere potatoes.

The dish gets its name from a rural suburb in Auckland, Pukekohe. Pukekohe is known as the food bowl of Auckland. It has rich volcanic soil, flat land and a temperate climate. Generations of growers have produced vast quantities of New Zealand’s potatoes, onions and other vegetables enabled by the elite soil and the all year round growing conditions. Unfortunately, in recent years, these farms have been threatened by the urban creep of residential housing development. Given the current global pandemic, now more than ever, as an island nation, we should be preserving these locations to ensure our ability to be self sufficient.

Ingredients

  • Large all purpose potatoes (peeled), the number you need depends on how many you are feeding. If the potatoes are medium size I would use two per person. You can always top up if you need more to fill your chosen baking dish
  • 1 – 2 medium sized white onions
  • Butter
  • Milk (about 1/4 cup)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Other seasoning (optional)

Method

  • You will need a baking dish which is at least a couple of inches deep
  • Pre heat your oven to 200°
  • Peel and slice the potatoes really thinly. If you have a mandoline slicer, use this as it helps keep the thickness of the slices consistent which means you won’t end up with uncooked sections in your pie. As you are slicing them, set them aside on a clean tea towel
  • Peel and slice the onions thinly (keeping the onion whole), so you get super skinny rings of onion
  • Rub the bottom of your baking dish with butter, ensuring the whole surface is greased
  • Pat the potatoes dry and make one layer of potato on the bottom of the dish
  • Then a layer of onion, a few blobs of butter, season
  • Repeat this until you reach the top of your dish which is a final layer of potato

Pour the milk over. You want to have the milk trickle its way through the dish which helps keep it moist but you don’t want the potatoes sitting in a lot of milk.

Bake for 60 – 90 mins depending on the size of the dish.

Once the potatoes are cooked through you are ready to serve.

This dish can be made ahead of time and reheated.

Cover photo credit to https://www.shutterstock.com/g/travellight – because my cooking is better than my photography I sometimes use other photographers to capture how the dish should look!

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