Gourmandistan

Lack of grater leads to greatness with ham, celeriac and leek pie

Ham, celeriac and leek pieWhat started as an additional reason to resent holiday cottage kitchens turned into another success thanks to Michelle, with a bit of an assist from Nigel Slater.  We had originally purchased a large knob of celeriac at a farmers’ market on our recent trip to Britain, imagining a picnic somewhere moor-ish where a bit of remoulade would accompany a leftover gammon (ham, to those non-English among us) sandwich and perhaps some crisps. Unfortunately, our rental was without a grater (or, at least we thought at the time it was … we actually later found one hiding in a cupboard), leaving us with no way to shred the knobby, somewhat tough and fibrous root.

Steve suggested mashing the celeriac with potatoes, since we’ve long admired the fresh, bright flavor celery root brings to this dish. Michelle, however, had been paging through A Year of Good Eating, the third installment of Nigel Slater’s “Kitchen Diaries” series, and had another idea. She had spotted a recipe for a kind of gammon and celery root pie, but thought that, while interesting, it seemed too dry and plain. Also, the recipe required the celeriac to be grated, which was as you may recall the “root” of the problem. (Steve only somewhat apologizes for this pun.) Taking Slater’s idea and adding to it, Michelle cubed our leftover gammon and some other veg to go with the celeriac, added lots of leeks and then bathed everything in a white sauce with smoked cheese, herbs and mustard. The whole arrangement was covered with a pâte brisée and baked, and we found the result quite pleasing for several meals.

We recreated the pie once we returned to the States, using unsmoked cheese because that’s all our kitchen had. The unsmoky version was almost equally tasty, though possibly enhanced by the delicious thought we had many graters quite close to hand.

HAM, CELERIAC AND LEEK PIE

  • 1 batch pâte brisée or other single pie crust
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 c.)
  • 1 large or several small celeriac roots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1-1/2 c.) (held in water with lemon juice before cooking so as not to brown)
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 c.)
  • 2 or 3 large leeks, white parts sliced thin
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 TB butter, divided
  • 2 generous TB flour
  • 2 c. stock (ham, chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 c. crème fraîche
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • Handful of chopped fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, chives and thyme)
  • 1/2 c. cheese, grated (a cheddar-type or a mix of regular and smoked cheddars)
  • 8 oz. cooked ham, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • Salt and pepper

Make pie crust and refrigerate.

Cook carrots, celeriac and potatoes, separately, in salted water until almost done. Drain, shock with cold water and set aside.

Sauté leeks and bay leaves in 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt. When leeks are done, remove bay leaves.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add flour and make a roux, whisking to remove lumps. Add stock, whisking all the while. Stir with a wooden spoon until sauce thickens. Add crème fraîche, mustard, herbs and cheese, stirring to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked vegetables and ham and stir to combine.

Place mixture in a 9- or 10-inch square baking dish. Can be made ahead up to this point and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Roll out pie dough to a size slightly larger the the baking dish. Top pie with dough and crimp edges. Cut a few holes to vent.

Place baking dish on a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake in center of oven for 40-45 minutes until crust is done and pie is bubbling.

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15 comments

  1. I think you found an unexpected treasure – I love the idea of cubed celeriac instead of grated. Celeriac likes lots of salt, so gammon could be its best friend 😉

    • I really love celeriac. The flavor is so clean. And I have to admit that our store-bought American ham was nowhere near as good as the gammon I bought at a farmers’ market and cooked myself in your fair country. 🙂

    • Thanks, Rosemary. I have gifted things to kitchens all over western Europe. This kitchen got a nice tart pan that I bought and then didn’t have room in my bags to bring home. 🙂

  2. Funny I just finished cooking and a while ago I have a missing mortar but there is a pestle, like you I survived.
    BTW that pie looks like a real great comfort meal to me.

  3. Such a good vegetable, celeriac. I love it mashed together with creamy mashed potatoes or roasted in chunks together with potatoes, onions and carrots….and maybe some beetroot. I used to love it roasted with roast beef but that’s history owing to the La Moussiere Edict of 2012:)

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