This shortcut pastry pie contains only potatoes, onions, flour, salt and pepper, and loads of butter. Often, bakers use lard in the crust, making it non-vegetarian. The dish is popular throughout Lancashire, but very much so around Preston, which has a large Catholic population (it used to be commonly referred to as “Priest Town”).
As Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays, butter pie was developed from local meat-and-potato pie recipes, replacing the meat with butter. Also known as Friday Pie or Catholic Pie, it provided an alternative Friday lunchtime dish for Catholic manual workers who needed a large daily input of calories. The butter provides a richness to the hearty dish, with the onions and seasoning providing the main source of flavor.
Nowadays, butter pie is popular throughout Lancashire every day of the week and is available in fish and chip shops and in many local supermarkets. It’s also sold as a halftime snack at soccer matches. In addition to being a beloved local specialty, butter pie also has the honor of being a part of Paul McCartney’s first post-Beatles number 1 single. In “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” he sings of having “a cup of tea and butter pie.”