Tag Archives: ham

Shropshire Fidget Pie

Shropshire Fidget Pie is, I have to admit, something I became aware of only a few years ago.  It seems it went out of fashion for some time.  The interest in eating local food has revived its fortunes and I finally got to taste a fidget pie a couple of months ago at our local National Trust property.  The National Trust cafes tend to serve superb local food and this one serves food that is harvested on site from the walled garden and the farm.  Fortunately for me one of the cooks at this property is also a family friend so when I saw her just before Christmas I grilled her for the recipe.  She told me what made up the filling.

Anyway,  as a true Salopian I thought it was about time I made a Fidget Pie.  (For those unaware, a Salopian is someone born in Shropshire.  The county was previously known as Salop, goodness knows why they felt the need to change the name).  Some of you might be aware that I am very proud to be a Salopian and a Midlander so to cook something that hails from the county makes me very pleased.

Our friend’s advice and a search around the internet has led to this version.  It is a combination of several recipes.  At the National Trust they make it in a pasty shape but it is also made like a pork pie in some recipes or as a topped pie as I have in this version.

It was a total success.  Mr OC was a bit dubious when he heard what was in a Fidget Pie, but he was certainly won over tonight. The combination of cider and apples really deliver a tasty punch.  This is a pie that comes highly recommended by me and Mr OC.

Serves 4

For the pastry:

8 oz plain white flour
4 oz cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1 bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
250g (10oz) ham or gammon
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
150 ml (¼ pint) double cream
300ml (½ pint) cider

Beaten egg for brushing over the top of the pie.

Method

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour and cold butter into a food processor and whizz until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need more or less) and whizz until it forms a ball.  Put the pastry into a plastic food bag or wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling, boil the potatoes for 3 minutes and then add the onions to the water and boil for another 2- 3 minutes.  Drain well.

Using a dish that measures 23cm x 30cm layer the apples, potato, onion and ham into the dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the brown sugar and the sage.

In a  jug stir together the cornflour and the cream until combined and then mix in the cider.  Pour this over the filling.

Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish and then cover the dish, pressing down well around the sides. Make a hole in the top of the pie. I used my blackbird as a steam vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until the pie is golden brown.

The fidget before pastry

My eldest helping with the pastry and egg wash

Ham and vegetable bake

It has been ages since I shared something savoury with you.  It’s not because we eat cake and nothing else in this house, it’s because my savoury food is never very photogenic.  I would like it to look like this or this but it never does.  My presentation skills are always lacking.  I never pile things into towers I just spoon it onto a warmed plate. It is especially difficult to get a good photo of an evening meal in an English winter.  With a cake I can take it outside and take a photo using the little natural light offered by our dull January days.  With an evening meal the sun was last seen a good few hours ago and the lights in our kitchen are of the spot variety which means wherever I stand I am always casting a shadow.

Anyway, I decided that last night’s meal was so good it needed to be shared with you regardless of whether it looks a bit of a mess in the photos. I had roasted a gammon joint, but I should have boiled it or soaked it the previous day because it’s just a bit too salty . So I thought if I layered it into a potatoes boulangere this might reduce the ham’s saltiness but add a good flavour to the potatoes.  Then I thought I might add carrots too to add an extra savoury element.

The end result was very comforting indeed, soft and squidgy veg and tender ham with a crispy potato topping.  I urge you to try it soon. If I had more time I would have crisped the top more, but we were both very hungry.

Serves 2 hungry people

2 large potatoes, sliced thinly
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion sliced thinly
4 ham slices
400ml vegetable or chicken stock
pepper
butter

Method
I use a tin measuring 26cm x 20cm and butter it generously.  Then place a layer of potato, a layer of carrot, a layer of ham, then a layer of onion in  the tin and season generously with pepper (you won’t need any salt).  Top with a layer of potato and pour over the stock.  Dot with more butter.  Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 180°, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for 1½ hours.  Remove the foil and continue to cook for another ½ hour until browned on top. Serve in a pile on a plate if you are anything like me.  A chunk of good bread is obligatory to soak up the juices.

Here it is before the final layer of potato.

Ham and pea soup

pea and ham soup

It was my daughter’s fifth birthday party at the weekend and it is a tradition that I cook a large baked ham to slice.  We have a good chunk left over and so last night’s supper was the ham and pea soup in the picture.  If I was better at photography I might have done it justice.  It was really tasty and I made some bread to go with it which I will share with you in another post. The recipe was inspired by a recipe for Green Pea, Ham and Leek soup in the Soups book by Grace Mulligan and Dilwen Phillips in the Best-kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute collection (2002, Simon & Schuster UK).  I replaced the leek with an onion in my version.

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1½ pints (850ml) chicken or vegetable stock
6 oz  (175g) frozen peas
6 oz (175g) chopped ham
2 tbsp chopped mint
olive oil
pepper

Method
Heat a drop of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onion and sweat for five minutes until translucent. Add the frozen peas and the stock and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 mins.  Add the ham and simmer for a further five mins.  Add the mint and simmer for two mins. Take the soup off the heat. Blend the soup well with a hand blender or in a food processor. Put the soup back into the pan, check for seasoning ( I doubt you will need salt as the ham is likely to be salty) and reheat gently.  Do not allow the soup to boil or the flavour will be spoilt.  Serve in warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread or croutons.