Ham hock is a game-changer for making a great pie
PREP TIME: 25 mins
COOKING TIME: 30 – 35 mins but 4hrs cooking your delicious ham hock first
IDEAL FOR: midweek meal, crowd-pleaser
Chicken and ham hock filo topped pie
This post is all about the glory of ham hock.
I’ve done this recipe before and it’s an absolute winner.
The Hairy Bikers know how to make an indulgent pie.
And with the ‘cheats’ version of using filo pastry to top the pie.
Not only do you get a lovely crunchy texture.
But it’s a much quicker (and less messy) way to whip up a pie for all to enjoy.
However, I decided to make it again and this time using a ham hock.
And what a game-changer.
The ham hock
If you’re not familiar with ham hocks, here’s a quick rundown.
Cut from the bottom half of the pork leg, it’s chunky and surrounded by collagen, connective tissue, and meat.
And encased in a thick band of fat and skin.
You can often choose from two hocks;
the fore from the front leg of the pig,
or the larger and meatier hind, taken from the back leg (I go for the larger).
Ok, I know that probably hasn’t sold it to you but hang in there.
Ham hock is rich in flavour and nutrients.
And can be used in lots of dishes such as soups, terrines, pies, salads…
The list goes on.
Another key benefit to delicious ham hocks is how inexpensive it is.
You’ll spend approx. £6 or less for a high-welfare ham hock (1kg).
So, there is really no reason not to buy quality.
How to cook ham hocks
The best way to cook ham hocks is low and slow.
This allows the collagen to render down and for the meat to become beautifully tender.
You should be able to shred the ham once it’s cooked.
You can use a slow cooker.
Or I simply pop it in a large pot covered with water and leave it on the hob on low, blipping gently away for approx. 4 hrs.
You could also place it in a large casserole pan, cover it with water, and with the lid on for approx. 8hrs at 140C.
Flavouring ham hocks
Often ham hocks have been brined and then smoked.
So, you may not need to add any additional ingredients.
However, adding a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns, star anise or an onion really works well too.
For this chicken and ham hock with filo-topped pie, I only added bay leaves and peppercorns.
Top tips on handling filo
This is for those of us who will never make filo pastry.
And I personally see no point when it comes to filo or puff pastry.
As I find it time-consuming and unless you find it relaxing to make, I always go for the bought options.
So, here are a few tips on handling the ‘bought stuff’…
How to handle:
- Filo will dry out quickly once exposed to air, so only take a small amount out of the packaging at a time.
- Have your oil or melted butter ready before you take out your pastry so it doesn’t dry out.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry sheets to try to avoid ripping.
- Use a pastry brush to brush oil or butter on evenly.
If you’re looking for more great pie recipes, check out this page, here
Recipe inspired by: Hairy Bikers
Chicken and ham filo topped pie
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 medium leek, cut thinly
- 100 ml white wine
- 150 ml water
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 2 chicken breasts (approx 175g), cut into small chunks or strips
- 100 g smoked ham, sliced
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 300 g creme fraiche (go healthier with half-fat)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sheets ﬁlo pastry, each about 38 x 30cm
- 1½–2½ tsp sunﬂower oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, add some sunflower oil and on a low heat add the onion and crushed garlic. Cook until the onion is softened, but not coloured (approx 5mins).Add in the leek, stirring in and cook for 1 minute more.Now add in the chicken and cook through.
- Next, pour over the white wine and 100ml of the water and dissolve the stock cube in the pan by squishing it with a wooden spoon. Keep simmering on a high heat and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by about half. Then remove the pan from the heat.
- In a large bowl, add ham strips (about 1.5cm wide) and add sprinkle the ﬂour on top and toss lightly.
- Now, add the chicken, onion, leek and stock mixture, the rest of the water and the crème fraiche. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and stir all the ingredients together until just combined. Spoon into a 1.5-litre pie dish.
- Put the 3 filo pastry sheets on a flat work surface on top of each other and cut with a sharp knife into strips – you should get around 9 long strips.Put some oil into a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly oil each strip, then scrunch up gently and place on top of the filling.Do this with each strip, adding them close to each other, until you have covered your filling.
- Bake the pie for 30–35 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the ﬁlling is bubbling.