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Ham, leek & pea pie

To make the pastry, sieve the plain flour into a bowl and add a small pinch of salt. Take the cold butter and cut into tiny cubes and add to the flour. Lightly work together the butter and flour with you finger tips or a pastry blender until a breadcrumb consistency is achieved. Add a splash of water, roughly three table spoons, then lightly work in, trying not to over work. Shape into a flat block, wrap in cling fling and leave in a fridge for a couple of hours or so.

Place a saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter and flour for the filling. Stir continuously until the butter has melted and combined with the flour. Add a splash of milk and stir in; repeat this until all the milk is combined.

Chop the leeks, onion and garlic then add to the pan, reducing to a medium to low heat.

Add the mustard, chopped parsley and season with a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. The ham will add saltiness so don’t over do it with the salt.

Remove from the heat and add the ham, cutting into rough chunks first, along with the frozen peas and crème fraîche. This will cool the filling down. Check the mixture for seasoning and correct accordingly.

Pour the filling mixture into the pie dish and leave to cool down to room temperature for 10-15 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Onto a floury surface, roll out the pastry so it is a little larger than your pie dish, keeping it as thick as possible and also keeping a little pastry aside for decoration if you wish. For this recipe I have used a pie dish that is 25cm wide. For the decoration, roll out then cut or calve your desired decoration. I have a little pig cutter which works well in this case.

Gently roll the pastry for the top around a rolling pin, then unroll it loosely over your pie dish and filling. Tuck the edges down the sides as best you can, pushing against the sides to seal or crimping the edge. It is nice to have a bit of pastry hanging over the edge so you get a little extra crumbly bits.

To make the egg wash, add an egg and a splash of milk to a bowl and whisk together. Lightly brush over the pie and then place your decoration on top, brushing over them with the egg wash also. In the centre, with a sharp knife, pierce two holes to let out steam.

Place in the oven for 35 minutes then leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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In our house this pie is almost certainly made following having a roast ham for something other than the trusty ham sandwich to use up the left overs. Puff pastry works well for this dish if you prefer and if you want to add a bit of naughty you can add a handful of grated cheddar mixed into the filling.

There has been some debate over the status of what it takes to be a pie, of course this will depend on the circles you socialise in for a chance of this topic to be brought up.

Pie…!

Some say that a pie with a lid is simply not a pie and it must be fully enclosed by pasty; top, bottom and sides. They may have a case by saying that something with just the pastry base and a filling is a tart, so there should be a name for a filling with just pastry on top. I disagree; it is a pie! After all, I am not going to start calling a shepherd’s pie anything else but a shepherd’s pie and that hasn’t even got pastry.

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Exmoor, Devon
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