Traditional English cooking: chicken and ham pie with peas, a luscious white sauce and puff pastry.
HAM AND CHICKEN PIE
This chicken and ham pie is a real family dish, easy to make, filling, it can be served on a weeknight and it would make a great Sunday lunch or dinner as well. And you can be pretty sure that everybody, picky kids included, will love it!
And what is not to like about this ham and chicken pie? Tender chicken pieces, savory ham bits, a velvety white sauce and pretty peas (a vegetable that most children like). Not to forget that delicious puff pastry on top… that is my favorite part.
A bonus of cooking or mostly baking some of the dishes and cakes mentioned in the Harry Potter series is that I get to learn a little bit more about English cooking.
My husband and I lived in London for one year, but to tell you the truth, the kind of cooking I really got to know there was not English cooking but rather Indian cooking. I fell in love with Indian food shortly after arriving in London and there was not so much place left for something else, 80% of the time we went out eating, we chose Indian…
Even so, a chicken and ham pie was one of the first things I cooked upon arriving in England. I had found the recipe for it somewhere in a magazine and thought it would be a great idea to cook it.
I love chicken and this was such an unusual way of cooking it for me. It was a really elaborate and rather costly recipe, involving a whole chicken, homemade shortcrust pastry and lots of other ingredients.
So I spent hours in the kitchen, had countless pots and dishes to do afterward and the result was sooooooo disappointing! We did eat it, but not very joyously. And now after about 9 years, I thought I would give the ham and chicken pie another try.
ENGLISH CHICKEN AND HAM PIE
I chose another recipe found somewhere online, which I changed beyond recognition in order to make it simpler, faster and a bit less calorie loaded. It is still not a meal suitable when on a diet, but compared to the original it is pretty skinny.
And most importantly, this particular chicken and ham pie does taste wonderful. I liked it a lot but nothing compared to my kids who really gobbled up everything I put on their plates and asked for more. They even ate the leftovers the next day, although the pastry on top was kind of soggy after one day spent in the fridge. But they didn’t mind that at all!
And in case you are wondering why I was mentioning Harry Potter at the beginning: the chicken and ham pie is mentioned in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, in chapter Seen and Unforeseen.
Seamus Finnigan, who at the moment is not talking to Harry, listens to Harry and Dean discussing the interview Harry gave Rita Skeeter about Voldemort’s return: “Seamus was shovelling down large amounts of chicken and ham pie on Dean’s other side, but Harry knew he was listening”.
And if you are interested in some of the other Harry Potter recipe I’ve cooked, have a look at these Pumpkin Pasties, Treacle Tart, Molly’s Fruit Mince Pies, Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, the Book of Monsters Cake, Ron’s Chocolate Gateau or Slughorn’s Crystallized Pineapple.
INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN AND HAM PIE
- You will need about 500 g/ 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast.
- You can cook fresh chicken breasts as described below or you can use leftover chicken, either breast or other leftover parts. Just the meat, discard any bones and skin.
- Should you happen to have turkey leftovers, they would be great as well.
- Regular cooked ham is fine, nothing fancy.
- It is preferable to buy ham in one piece or at least thicker cut slices, which you can easily chop yourself.
- I usually use an already rolled disc of puff pastry, which can be found in the refrigerator section of the supermarket.
- Already rolled pastry should never be rolled again, many people still do that, no idea why. The pastry is perfectly rolled as it is, all you have to do is to trim it to fit the dish.
- Frozen puff pastry can be used instead. Thaw and roll the puff pastry according to the packet’s instructions.
- You will need frozen peas, which can be added to the pot used to cook the chicken during the last minutes of the cooking time.
- If using chicken leftovers (which will not be cooked anymore), defrost the peas before using, there is no need to cook them.
- You will need the regular spices, you normally use when making chicken stock: black peppercorns, bay leaves, allspice.
- A chicken stock cube (or powder) are also necessary to add some flavor. As you will only cook the chicken breast for a short time, there will be not enough time for the flavors to develop. A stock cube does help in this case.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN AND HAM PIE?
Chicken, peas and ham:
- If cooking the chicken for the pie, start by placing the chicken breasts in a soup pot. Add water and spices.
- Bring to a boil, add a little salt and the chicken stock cube, turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked through.
- Add the frozen peas during the last 3 minutes of the cooking time.
- If using leftover chicken, remove the skin and the bones, if necessary. Defrost the peas and set aside.
- Take the chicken breast out of the cooking water, let cool a down for about 5 minutes.
- Chop into 2 cm/ 0.7 inch cubes.
- Chop the ham into small cubes as well.
- Drain the peas reserving the cooking water.
- Discard the spices.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
- Cook the very finely chopped onion until golden.
- Sprinkle the flour on top and stir gently until the flour gets lightly golden as well.
- Gradually add 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ scant 1 cup of the reserved cooking water and the milk while whisking continuously.
- Turn the heat down and stir until the desired thickness is achieved, about 8 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
- Stir in the chicken, ham and peas. Adjust the taste again.
- Pour the mixture into a pie dish of about 28 cm/ 11 inches diameter.
- If using already rolled puff pastry, unroll the disc and cover the pie with it.
- Seal the pie by pressing the pastry disc firmly on the side of the dish. I used a fork and pressed and crimped all around the pie dish. Trim off the excess pastry.
- You could use this excess to cut out leaves, flowers (or whatever you like) to decorate the pie with. It is not a necessary step though.
- Egg wash:
- Mix the egg yolk and the milk in a small bowl. Brush the pastry. Place the leaves/flowers on top of the pastry and brush them with egg as well.
- Make a small slit (x) in the middle of the pie and some simple slits two or three times around the edges of the pie.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
HOW TO SERVE CHICKEN AND HAM PIE?
Serve the ham and chicken pie immediately. Leftovers still taste delicious, but the pastry will not be crispy anymore.
A chicken and ham pie is really a complete meal, all you will need as a side dish are a salad or some cooked or roasted vegetables.
Here are some suggestions:
PIN IT FOR LATER!
- 500 g/ 1.1 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 5 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 allspice corns
- 1 cube organic chicken stock
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 ¼ cup frozen peas
- 200 g/ 7 oz cooked ham
- 35 g/ 1.2 oz/ 2 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion
- 40 g/ 1.4 oz/ 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ scant 1 cup cooking water from the chicken
- 300 ml/ 10 fl.oz/ about 1 1/3 cup milk
- 1 disc puff pastry, large enough to cover the pie, about 30 cm/ 12 inches diameter (See note)
- 1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk
- a few gratings of nutmeg
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken breasts in a pot, cover with water. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, allspice. Bring to a boil, add a little sea salt and the stock cube, turn the heat down, simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Add the frozen peas during the last 3 minutes of the cooking time. If using leftover chicken remove the skin and the bones (if necessary), chop the meat. Defrost the peas and set aside.
- Lift the chicken from the water, let cool for a about 5 minutes. Chop into 2 cm/ 0.7 inch cubes. Chop the ham into small cubes as well. Drain the peas reserving the cooking water. Discard the spices.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion until golden. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir gently until the flour gets lightly golden as well. Gradually add 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ scant 1 cup of the reserved cooking water and the milk while whisking continuously. Turn the heat down and stir until the desired thickness is achieved, about 8 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
- Take off the heat and stir in the chicken, ham and peas. Adjust the taste again, adding more salt, pepper and nutmeg if necessary. Pour the mixture into a pie dish of about 28 cm/ 11 inches diameter.
- Unroll the puff pastry disc and cover the pie with it. Seal the pie by pressing the pastry disc firmly on the sides of the dish. I used a fork and pressed and crimped all around the pie dish. Trim off the excess pastry. You could use this excess to cut out leaves or flowers to decorate the pie with. It is not a necessary step.
- Mix the egg yolk and the milk in a small bowl. Brush the pastry with this mixture. Place the leaves/flowers on top of the pastry and brush them with egg as well.
- Make a small slit in form of an X in the middle of the pie and some simple slits two or three times around the edges of the pie. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Frozen puff pastry can be used instead. Defrost and roll according to the packet's instructions.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of the dish
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 379 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 139mg Sodium: 697mg Carbohydrates: 24g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 40g