Friday, May 28, 2010

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Well, Hey, There, Ham Pie

With weather growing warmer (admittedly, a relative concept here), I find myself mulling over lunch outdoors more often. While we live just a few blocks from San Diego’s sprawling Balboa Park, I don’t pack enormous picnic hampers, toting bottles of wine, ironed linens, and my best silver down the street, but I do like something other than the day’s paper tucked under my arm when I take in the greenery for a lunch break.

Enter the ham pie. A few months back, the BBC posted a recipe for Country Ham Pie (article here). Not country ham, as Americans understand the term; country-style (e.g., free form) pie, made with puff pastry and ham. My take is slightly different from the BBC’s, but just as easy.

Blessed with a surfeit of orgeat-basted ham leftover from an earlier roast, I ground a double handful of it, raided the fridge and freezer for the rest, and cranked out this simple lunch. Make the puff pastry yourself if you're feeling either industrious or virtuous, but if you’re a lazy-ass lout like me, find a decent frozen brand and thaw it for a quick lunch.
Ham Pie

2 x 375g/13oz packs chilled puff pastry
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
115g/4oz unsalted butter, melted
175g/6oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
115g/4oz white bread crumbs or panko
3 tbsp freshly chopped chives
a handful of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
350g/12oz great ham, roughly chopped
290ml/½ pint sour cream, crema, or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lemon, juice only (about 0.5 oz)
1 beaten egg, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Cut just over half of one pack of the pastry and roll out to a rectangle to about 1/8” about and 28x28cm/11”x11” on a lightly floured chopping or pastry board. Insert a silicon sheet on a baking sheet, place the pastry base on top, and prick well with a fork.

Bake the pastry base in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Melt the butter with the garlic, then cool slightly. In a medium-sized bowl mix the melted butter and garlic, cheese, and breadcrumbs together.

When the base is cooked and cool, scatter half the cheese mixture onto the base. Leave a border of at least 2.5cm/1”.

Sprinkle over the chopped ham, soured cream, spinach, and chives.

Tip the remaining cheese mixture over evenly and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Roll out the remaining packet of pastry 5cm/2” larger than the base.

Use the beaten egg to glaze the border and place the remaining pastry square over the top. Trim to fit, pinch the edges with a fork, and glaze the top with beaten egg.

Use any remaining pastry/filling to make small buns (chef’s treat: nobody needs to know).

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Serve.


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