Category 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
450ml (¾ 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.

Aga baked ham

This is what I cook if I am catering for a fair few people.  So I always cook it for my daughters’ birthday parties.   It was my youngest’s 3rd birthday this weekend and we were having a family tea for her.

It’s very easy to cook this ham in a four-oven Aga as you can just leave it to cook away all night.  You could cook it in a conventional oven at a low temperature, but I guess that may use a fair amount of electricity and there are probably better ways of cooking a ham in a conventional oven.  This is a recipe from my Mum, but I have no idea where she got it from.

This ham weighed 6kg and cost in the region of £17.00 from my local butchers.  It fed 8 adults and two children at the party and has supplied us with enough ham for two ham and cheese omelettes, a spaghetti carbonara for four, about five sandwiches, and there’s a bone for the dog when it is all finished, so it is quite a bargain really.

I placed the ham in a large bowl and filled it with water and then drained this water away and refilled with fresh water.  I covered the bowl and then kept it in a cold place overnight.  Soaking a ham like this makes sure that it is not too salty and because I won’t be boiling it in water is probably wise, but ask your butcher if they think it is necessary when you buy your ham as cures can be different.

The herbs and spices faintly scent the ham and this way of cooking preserves the full flavour of the meat and retains a delicious moistness.

6kg ham
3 bay leaves
15 black peppercorns
5 juniper berries
4 whole cloves

For the glaze:

3 tsp mustard powder
3 tsp soft brown sugar
3 tsp maple syrup
15-20 whole cloves

Method

After soaking the ham in water in a bowl for at least twelve hours place the ham in a deep sided roasting tin with the bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries and 4 whole cloves.  Cover loosely with foil – make a tent so that the foil does not come in contact with the top of the ham otherwise you may find that the salt in the ham attacks the foil during the long cooking. Place in the simmering oven of a four-oven Aga and leave overnight or for 10-12 hours.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven.  Remove the rind of the ham with a sharp knife but leave as much of the fat underneath as you can.  Score the fat into diamond shapes with the knife.  Mix the mustard, sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl and spread all over the fat of the ham.  Pierce the ham at the corners of each diamond with a whole clove.  Place in the baking oven of the Aga  (about 180°c) for 20-25 minutes until the glaze is bubbling and golden.

Put the ham onto a meat platter and leave to get completely cold and then slice into lovely thick slices.

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