Last year I carried out an experiment to see if I could rise to the challenge of a local MP and feed myself for £18 a week. I could and so should we all but, unfortunately, most of us haven’t been taught how to whilst, at the same time, being encouraged to be more concerned with the schedule of the telly rather than the contents of the food cupboard.
My mum taught me years ago that a great tasty and cheap way to feed oneself was with a ham hock. I used it as part of last year’s exercise; boiled a £2.50 ham hock then made a pie, some sandwiches and loads of lovely soup. So here’s the recipe for the pie.
I usually make my own pastry but I also use ready made sometimes. Just read the instructions on the packet.
You need to boil a ham hock before using. So, place it in a large pan, add two halves of an onion, maybe a celery stick and/or a leek cut into large chunks plus a few black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves but no salt.. Just cover with cold water and bring to a gentle simmer. Skim off any scum that appears during the first 20 minutes or so, after which there shouldn’t be any more, and allow to cook gently for four hours, maybe partly covering with a lid.
Strain the liquid through a colander and then a fine sieve, reserving the stock and the ham but discarding the other ingredients which have done their job. The ham is now ready for eating in sandwiches and our pie.
- 500g ready made shortcrust pastry – or make your own
- One onion – peeled and chopped
- One carrot – diced
- 100g frozen peas
- A couple of pinches of thyme leaves
- 30g plain flour
- 50g butter
- 300ml of the strained ham stock
- 200g of the ham – cut into chunks or shredded
- One egg – lightly beaten
- Freshly-ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4)
Halve the amount of pastry and roll out and line the base of an 8 or 9 inch pie dish. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper weighed down with a handful of uncooked pasta shells or similar and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the paper cover and allow to cool.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently saute the onion and carrot until softened. Then add the peas and thyme and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the flour, cook for two minutes and then gradually add the stock, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the ham, add some black pepper and spoon into the pastry base.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the pie, crimping around the edges. Brush all over with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden.
Previously published in The Northern Echo