This ham and leek pie is loaded with flavor and is a great way to use up leftover ham after Easter or Christmas. Salty ham is paired with fresh spring leeks, asparagus, peas, creamy potatoes, and topped with a crunchy puff pastry crust.
Working with puff pastry
Puff pastry is really easy to work with if you follow these tips.
Purchasing puff pastry
When buying puff pastry look for brands that list butter as a top ingredient. Many brands make their puff pastry with partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening instead of butter; frozen puff pastry made with butter is more expensive but will have the best flavor and produce the puffiest layers.
Thawing puff pastry
Puff pastry must be completely thawed before using it. Unfolding puff pastry, while it is still frozen, could tear the sheet. Thaw time will vary. The pastry should unfold easily but still be cold after thawing. To check to see if your puff pastry has fully thawed, gently press the ball of your finger in the middle of one of the sheets. If your finger leaves an indentation, the pastry is ready to be used. If sheets reach room temperature, return to the refrigerator to re-chill (but not refreeze).
There are three methods for thawing puff pastry:
- Microwave: To thaw in the microwave, remove 1 pastry sheet from the box and outer wrapping and wrap in a damp paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 15 seconds. Flip the pastry sheet over and microwave another 15 seconds. If the pastry doesn’t unfold easily, microwave for another 5 seconds on each side.
- Room Temperature: To thaw at room temperature, remove the pastry sheet(s) from the box and outer wrapping. Thaw pastry sheet(s) at room temperature covered by plastic wrap to prevent the pastry from drying out until the pastry unfolds easily, no more than 40 minutes.
- Refrigerator: The best way to thaw puff pastry is in the refrigerator. It’s important to keep the layers of dough and butter separate when thawing puff pastry. The best way to do this is to thaw it slowly and in a cool place. Most frozen puff pastry sheets will take six to eight hours to thaw in the refrigerator. Removing the puff pastry from its box and moving it to a baking sheet in the refrigerator will help it to thaw more quickly.
Once your dough has thawed, work quickly and keep the dough cold. Chill a sheet pan in the freezer and turn it upside down to use as a work surface.
Use a long, heavy rolling pin to roll out the puff pastry dough. This helps create a pastry that’s even all over and you won’t have to press down too hard to roll it out.
It is important to not press too hard when rolling out the ends and edges. You want to avoid pressing the edge layers together, as that will prevent the pastry from rising.
How to prepare leeks
If you have never cooked with leeks before they might be a little intimidating. Check out this post to learn more about how to choose, wash, and prepare leeks.
You want the consistency of your filling to be thick but not too thick before placing the ham and leek pie in the oven. The filling will continue to thicken a little more in the oven as the pie bakes.
If your filling seems soupy, like heavy cream, let it continue to simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. To speed up the thickening process, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the sauce and whisk in a tablespoon or two of flour until no more lumps remain, then whisk this mixture back into the dutch oven.
If the filling seems too thick, whisk in some additional broth to thin it out again.
- You can use store-bought chicken stock or if you want to make this dish really special make your own super simple slow cooker chicken stock.
- You can substitute dried herbs for the fresh herbs by reducing the quantities to 1 tsp. each.
The pie can be assembled up to one day in advance. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. Add an additional 10 minutes to the baking time.
- Salad – any type of crisp green salad.
- Carrots, or any other Spring vegetable that is not already included in this pot pie.
Pot pie is best the day it is baked. Storing and reheating will cause the crust to become a bit soggy. You can microwave leftovers just know that the pie crust will soften.
How to freeze ham and leek pie filling
To freeze the unbaked pie filling, follow steps 1-4 in the directions below. Then spoon the filling into an 8×8 foil pan. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Label with the contents and date. The pie filling can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How to cook frozen ham and leek pie filling
- Allow the frozen pie filling to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the foil and plastic wrap.
- Finish assembling the pie starting with step 5 in the directions below.
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