In its simplest form, this isn’t even a pie. It’s just the fastest way to get three hungry kids fed, presuming that you routinely have potatoes and cheese in the house. This was my dad’s fast food meal for us.
Three pounds of potatoes: scrub, remove any bits you don’t want to eat – my dad was a WWII child, he presumed we didn’t want to eat actual black bits, otherwise the whole potato went into the pressure cooker, skin, eyes, and all. Cut the potatoes into roughly equal bits.
Cook them in the pressure cooker: they take less than 10 minutes.
Grate at least half a pound of cheese while the potatoes are cooking, or delegate a child to do it.
Slice a cucumber and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar (another good job for a child). Or cook enough frozen peas for everyone. Or put a bowl of fresh tomatoes on the table. Or all three.
Drain the potatoes. Reserve the potato water for breadmaking or stock.
Mash the potatoes with the grated cheese. This would usually be a big hunk of red cheddar, so the potatoes turn modified orange. Three pounds of potatoes to half a pound of cheese fed three children and two adults comfortably, but you can modify this any way you want it. It’s good as leftovers, too.
Serve up the hot mashed potatoes and cheese with slices of cucumber, or fresh tomato, or hot green peas.
All takes less than 20 minutes, if you have a pressure cooker (or it’s possible to cook potatoes quite fast in a microwave, in a covered bowl).
But, if you have time, you can also grease a dish – a flat dish is best, the more crust the better – and pack the mashed potato/cheese mix into the dish, grease the top, draw a CND symbol into the potato (at least, my dad always did: he’s a lifelong anti-nuclear campaigner, and the baked version of this dish was known in our household as CND Pie), and bake in the oven until a crunchy brown crust has developed (half an hour to an hour). Leftovers can be reheated under a grill for more tasty crust.
You can also chop mushrooms and add to the potato before you bake it: or dress the potato up a bit with grain mustard (makes the cheese cheesier), or nutmeg, which is delicious. Or cook the potatoes in good beer, which adds another level of flavour to the dish. This makes it a rather more grown-up dish: my recollection is that when we were small and hungry, just plain cheese and potatoes suited us fine.