Tarte a l’ oignon (Onion pie)

” Com’on Nathalie! Knead it like a woman! ”
I can remember my mother’s voice repeatedly yelling at me as I was trying to make a pie crust! ” Met fanm sou ou!” (which literally means ” Put a woman on you” -_- ) . It’s a term that is often used by mature women in my country to young adolescents becoming women.
A translation of it would sound more like ” Suck it up! you’re a woman!” or “Do it with vigor! ” . OK   it’s starting to sound weird but what can I say? It’s the best way I can put it .
My mother believes that a woman is the strongest thing alive and she’d always say that I was a soft one, at least with my hands! She would constantly remind me to put a lot of vigor and passion in my hands when I’d be combing my hair, scrubbing the dishes, washing my clothes or cooking/baking. Unfortunately, I enjoyed precision, delicacy and softness. I guess that ‘s why I’m so fond of art and sculpting.

Well, today, I smiled while kneading my pie crust and I tried to ” met fanm sou mwen” 🙂
I’m sure maman would be proud.

Onion pie is of European origin, Alsace to be precise. Yet it is one of those recipes that have been and stayed in Haitian families for quite a while. ’til this day I come across a few Haitian individuals whose taste buds have yet to savor the onion pie.
My mother used to bake that pie since I was younger .
Every 1st communion, christening or wedding is bound to have the famous onion pie on the menu.
So, how about you try this at home and you let me know if it’s not the best thing yet you’ve ever tasted 🙂

This recipe is a simple one but because it has more than one preparation included in it, it might take a while. It literally took me  2 hours to prepare this dish.

Pie Crust Ingredients
2 cups 1/2 of flour
1 cup (16 tbsp) of butter
1 tsp of salt
4 tbsp of cold water
1 egg yolk

Bechamel sauce ingredients
1 cup of evaporated milk
2 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp 1/2 of solid, cold butter
salt, pepper, garlic, parsley at will

Onion preparation ingredients
4 white onions
7-8 tbsp of oil
1 tbsp of butter

You might want to start preparing the pie crust first since you will need to store it in the fridge after (at least) 1 hour.
First, prepare a nice clean and even surface.
Arrange your 2 cups 1/2 of flour like a volcano (Fig.1)
Cut (or arrange) your butter  into little cubes and place  them inside of your “volcano”.
Knead the dough with the butter. Going from the  most outer to the most inner. It should look a little bristle .
Add one tbsp of water at a time. The water should help the dough stick to itself (consistency-wise).  (Fig.2)
The less it sticks together, the more water you should add.
Form 2 disks (Fig.3) with your dough and wrap each one of them inside of a plastic wrap. Leave in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour!



Fig.3 ( I didn’t have any plastic wrap, so I put the disks inside of ziploc bags)

Now you can start preparing your onions. Cut your onions like thin fries. (Fig.4) . Don’t worry about the quantity since they will eventually decrease in size as they cook.
Take a deep pan and put it onto a low  fire. Pour in your olive oil and add butter . This part is very important –> DO NOT LET YOUR OIL+BUTTER FRY! You should not hear the sizzling sound.
Add your onions into the mix and use a wooden spoon to stir ever so gently the onions.
Keep stirring gently without stopping.
Your onions should have a translucent appearance(Fig.5)  and should not stick to the pan. At this point you’ll start realizing that they have started decreasing in size. This should take no more than 30 mns.



To prepare your bechamel sauce, you need a small pot. Pour your milk into the pot and stir it until it reaches ebullition.
Add your butter into another pot (a little bit bigger and deeper). Again, use very low fire as you STiR! Gradually, you will add your flour into the butter. It will thicken. Make sure you mix the butter and flour well. Do not wait too long before you pour the hot milk into the mixture. You will obtain a thick bechamel sauce. (Fig.6)
You can now add your seasonings as you wish. The sauce will seem small. Don’t worry! Add your onions to the sauce. (Fig.7)



Now you can prepare your 9″ pie pan. Coat the bottom of the pan lightly with butter. Use a tbsp of flour to add an extra coat over the butter (Fig.8). The butter helps the flour stick to the pan. This will allow for your pie to NOT stick to the pan.  You can now preheat your oven at 350F

Take out one disk of dough from the fridge. (Fig.9a) Use your rolling pin to flatten and create the base of your pie. (Fig.9b)
Cut out any excess dough that may go past the rim of the pan.
You will then pour your mixture of onion bechamel into the pan. (Fig.10)
And with the other disk you can create your own pattern or layout for the surface of the pie. I chose to make an old fashion grid! (Fig.11)
Once you are done with your fun little design, put the egg yolk inside of a little container. Use a brush to coat the top of the pie crust with the yolk. This will give a golden appearance to your pie (Fig.12)




Your pie is now ready to be popped into the oven! It should be ready in about 30mns.
Bon appetit!

Due to several requests, I’ve decided to upload a video on how to make a pie crust.
I’m not speaking in it since what you will see is exactly matching the description of the directions up there.
It’s less than 3:00 mns. Enjoy!


Published by Nathalie JB

Bonjou! My name is Nathalie Jean-Baptiste. Yes! I know, my last name doesn’t get any more Haitian than that! Who am I really? I consider myself a renaissance woman. I looooooove learning new skills in any field possible: Culinary, baking, painting, crafting, designing, writing, knitting, sewing. You name it! I often joke while saying “ I’m a tout bagay”. Which literally translates to “I’m everything”. Most say I'd make a great surgeon due to the agility in my hands. Sure, I can manage any tasks requiring detail and precision. It drives my audacity to venture in the kitchen with absolutely no experience. What better motivation than to share my culinary journey with you? To help you get better at things you probably thought you couldn't do. At least, that was my drive! I guess by now, you’ve already figured out that I'm the cook and photographer behind “Pilon lakay”. This blog started 8 years ago as I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about Haitian cuisine. Back home, I was never taught how to cook nor was I ever interested in being in the kitchen unless it involved baking. Instead, I loved preparing cakes and cookies. (Shhhh! I still do). After a couple of years in the US, like most of us immigrants, I missed food from home. The good stuff, you know! So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make of this a personal exploration of Haitian food. Boy what a journey it has been! While cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I wanted to encourage others like me to actually learn and explore Haiti’s gastronomy. I made sure my instructions were personal and beginner friendly. My recipe directions contain a lot more details than any other regular recipes. With a personal touch, it's a depiction of my thought process when I do these many tasks. I'm sure you can cook anything on here! If I can do it, you can too! Come experience Haiti through your taste buds! Meet you in the kitchen! Love, N.

6 thoughts on “Tarte a l’ oignon (Onion pie)

  1. Ok so I decided to try this interesting creation. I have never been a huge fan of onions but it intrigued me somehow so I said “what the heck”. Anywho, I started with the crust just like u suggested but infortunately I didn’t look at the instructions, I just looked at the ingredients and put it all together, then realized that I didn’t have enough flour and substituted the rest with whole wheat pancake mix lol. When I saw how watery it was I looked back at your instructions and was like, Oops big mistake! So now what am I going to do? Not running to the store right now 😦 Aww nuts. Then a light bulb went off in my brain, hey there is an extra pie crust in the fridge that was left over. I then made the rest of the dish and kneaded the crust to make the grid. My pie has a top but no bottom. About to take the pie out the oven, let’s see how it turns out. So excited! Next time I will def read the entire recipe throughout and make sure I have all the ingredients lol. Thanks Nat! Will let you know how it turns out 🙂

  2. Nath, tu ne m’as pas explique comment faire le grid. C’est ce que j’attendais le plus. I can’t figure it out.

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