Mat Lindsay likes to let the oven do the talking. His cooking at Sydney's Ester is all about walking a line between care and consistency in the cooking and letting the caprices of the wood fire and the natural variety in the tastes and texture of his ingredients come to the fore. It's food with both guts and glory.
"At Ester, I use a wood-fired oven to cook most things," says Lindsay. "It requires a certain level of intuition in that you need to understand the wood and how fire reacts. Cooking with an open flame has a kind of romance to it. I like this pie to have a punch and it tastes best when there are a few burnt bits here and there - the bitterness stops it being too rich. If you don't have access to a wood-fired oven, have your oven as hot as it will possibly go. We like to serve the pie with a chilli sauce we ferment ourselves, but a bit of Tabasco, which is also fermented, works well, too." Though he likes the pie as it is, Lindsay says it's quite forgiving of experimentation with toppings. "We've even gone extravagant at times and thrown a bit of fresh truffle on, but anything that tastes good with cheese is good - make it your own." This recipe can make either one large (40cm), two medium (25cm) or four small pies (18cm); we've gone for two medium pies. Start this recipe a day ahead to pickle the onion.