Ah, comfort food. Something we all need on a regular basis. Here’s a potpie recipe with a different kind of crust and a filling that is pure, caramelized onion. Simple, deep in flavor, and something to share with a very cold bottle of white.

This recipe comes Elinor Klivan’s Potpies. This little gem of a book, published in 2006, is replete with ideas that will change your idea of “pot pie.” This recipe with a shortcake crust is a perfect example of the diversity to be found on every page!

The crust here is made with cheddar cheese and buttermilk, an intense pairing that marries the caramelized onions quite well.

Onion Shortcake Potpie

Yield: serves 6


For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound onions (3 large), thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk (nonfat is fine)


Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a 9-inch glass pie dish or 9-inch round shallow baking dish.

Make the filling: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add the onions, sugar, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and evenly dark golden, about 35 minutes. They will shrink in volume by about half. Pour in the water, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the water evaporates. The onions will turn slightly darker as they incorporate the brown bits. Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the onions into the baking dish.

Prepare the topping: In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the butter pieces. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer on low speed, a pastry blender, or your fingertips, mix the ingredients together until coarse crumbs form, about ½ to ¾ inch in size. Stir in the shredded cheese. Add the buttermilk and continue stirring just until a soft dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball. Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin and roll the dough into a 9‑inch circle (about ¾ inch thick) that fits snugly into the baking dish. Use a metal spatula to loosen the dough from the rolling surface and place it over the onion filling. If the dough breaks during the transfer, just pinch it together. This dough just rests on top of the filling.

Bake until the top is evenly golden, about 17 minutes. Use a large knife to cut the hot pie into wedges and a wide spatula or pancake turner to lift the filling and its topping from the baking dish.

Source: Potpies by Elinor Klivans [Chronicle Books, 2006]