As my second pie for Bristish Pie Week 2016, I am featuring a wonderful "Ham, Leek and Herb Pie". Love serving individual servings instead of one large pie with this uncomplicated recipe.
Ham, Leek and Herb Pie
- 50 grams unsalted butter
- 3 medium leeks, thickly sliced
- 1 tsp English mustard powder (available online or at your favorite British shop)
- 2 tbsp plain (AP) flour
- 300 ml high-quality chicken stock (best to use homemade, if possible)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 150 grams cream cheese (you can also work with soft goat cheese here)
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped mixed herbs (go with what you like with a mix of thyme, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, and/or sage)
- grated peel fo 1/2 organic lemon
- 350 grams cooked ham, cut into bite size pieces
- one package of high-quality butter puff pastry (about 500 grams) OR make your own flaky rough puff pastry
- 1 egg (M), free range or organic, beaten with a fork
- For the filling, melt the butter in a large pan and cook the sliced leeks for about 5 minutes, until softened. Using a slotted spoon transfer the leeks to a plate and set aside.
- Stir in the mustard and flour into the pan juices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually blend in the stock and cream cheese.
- Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring until thickened.
- Remove from the heat and season to taste.
- Stir in the herbs, grated lemon peel and leeks, cover with food wrap and allow to cool.
- Stir in the ham, before spooning into 4 x 300 milliliters individual pie dishes.
- Divide the puff pastry into four and roll each out on a lightly floured work surface 2 centimetres larger than each pie.
- Brush the edges of the pie dishes with water.
- Cut a strip of pastry from each pastry circle and lay on the edge of the dish. Brush with water and top each dish with a circle of pastry pressing the pastry together to seal and trim.
- Using a sharp knife cut a steam hole in the centre of the pies.
- Cover and chill for about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile preheat your oven to 190°Celsius (375°Fahrenheit).
- Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until well risen and golden.
This pie is all about a flaky crust and the soft vegetables, creamy sauce, ham and fresh herbs underneath. It is all about the contrast of textures that make just about everything good taste even better.
There is really nothing more delightful than to shatter the crust of a well-baked puff-pastry shell and to dig into the softness of its filling - the crisp and the soft, the rough and the smooth.
This creamy Ham, Leek and Herb Pie is just about as close to perfect comfort food as you can get.
If you have leftovers, do not immediately reach for your sandwich bread but try a homely pie instead - adapt it to whatever meat or veg you have leftover. Once it is perfect baked with a glistening, deep golden crust, do not hold back any longer and just dig in!
And remember that "just about everything tastes better when it's covered with a pastry lid".