Butter Pie: Legendary Lancashire Pie With Catholic Roots

Butter pie
Butter pie! Thanks to Greenhalghs for the image.

Pies are important in England. They’re as big as the Queen over here and many people couldn’t survive without them.

One of the most popular varieties is the butter pie. It’s a humble little thing, but worthy of front page headlines due to its brilliance.

What’s a Butter Pie?

Butter pie is a traditional savoury pie that includes potatoes, onions, and butter. You’ll find the pies in local chippies across a lot of Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Areas such as Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Chorley (also famous for Chorley cakes), Bury, Preston, and Wigan stock them.

And the locals are called pie-eaters. Because they like eating pies.

Pastry dishes such as sausage rolls are big business up north, with pies leading the way in popularity. Some of them include:

  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Pork pies
  • Gala pie (this is like the pork one, but with an egg in it)
  • Chicken and leek pie

Balls to that lot! Because we’re here to discuss a legend that involves butter. So, let’s take a look at its origins.

What’s the History of Butter Pies?

Apparently, the recipe was created with Lancashire’s Catholic community in mind. When meat wasn’t allowed on certain days, this was a tasty alternative.

This came about due to the English Reformation in the 16th century, when the Church of England broke away from the Pope’s authority.

It all began in 1517 when a monk called Martin Luther protested over the Catholic church. Thusly, his followers became Protestants and all manner of hellish civil wars kicked off.

Luther actually sent a list of 95 grievances to the bishop of Mainz.

Whilst big regions of England became Protestant, Lancashire maintained a solid Catholic community.

By the 19th century in Preston (in Old English this translates to Priest Town), the Preston Catholics invented the butter pie so they could all eat tasty pastry foodstuffs on holy days.

In 1947, the government created the British Butter Board. That standardised the recipe for the dish, bringing it to the scumbag masses for the first time.

And thusly it spread across England like a tasty bout of plague.

It even featured in the Sir Paul and Linda McCartney 1971 song Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.

You’ll find the pie lyrics at the 2 minute 55 seconds mark. These are as follows:

“Admiral Halsey notified me,
He had to have a berth or he couldn’t get to sea,
I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie,
Butter pie?
The butter wouldn’t melt so I put it in the pie.”

There you go. If butter pies are good enough for McCartney, then they’re good enough for you, too!

It’s now so legendary it has a place in the annual World Pie Eating Championship, which is held in Wigan, Lancashire. Feel free to attend.

How Do You Make Butter Pie?

Here he is again, it’s smoking hot, gorgeous, hubba hubba, manly slab of man that is Jamie Oliver.

He has tips on how to make the shortcrust pastry for your pie. That’s the tough bit. You need to master the art of pie pastry before even going anywhere near butter.

But if you’re confident enough there, then it’s time to get the ingredients for your filling.

3 large potatoes
1 large onion
150 grams of butter
Salt and black pepper

Once you’ve cooked up the potatoes and that lot, you can bung it into the centre of the pie and bake the bastard.

And there you have it! Once baked, it’ll be a butter pie. So shut up and eat it!

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