This afternoon, while I sat on the couch watching a little TV, and I was thinking about my grandma. Growing up, I’d always head to Upstate New York in the summers for a week with my Uncle (who also agrees that Anchor Bar is better than Duffs), Aunt, and cousins followed by a week in Cape Vincent with my grandparents. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world. We’d swim in the St. Lawrence River and enjoy the waves made by the barges passing by…while trying to avoid walking on seaweed (borderline impossible!). We’d go to the local general store in the middle of the day when it was incredibly hot and just sit in the walk in fridge. We’d head into Watertown for a minor league baseball game. There were trips to Hershey Canada and Wolfe Island. Croquet with my grandpa, all the cards you could handle at night (Rack-O, anyone?), and a nice walk along the river each morning…Looking back, I think the only thing that we were absolutely barred from doing was watching Young and the Restless with them (that was mandatory “play outside” time for the kids). But one of my fondest memories is the smell of ham coming out of the oven (and strawberry rhubarb pie after). Simply put, nobody makes ham like her, and she’d make it specially for me since she knew how much I loved it. I don’t know what she did, but the result was perfection. In my grand reminiscence tonight, ham is non-negotiable. However, since I know that no baked ham I could make would hold a candle to hers, I’m going to go a different direction…a casserole/pie hybrid!
This would pair well with a spinach salad or any roasted veggies…but depending on what you put in the pie, it can also stand on its own. So you’ve got lots of choices to make ahead
Time: 60 Minutes (including crust making time…less if using pre-made)
- For the Crust (enough to make two pies in 5″ cast iron skillets)
- 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- About an ounce of cold water
- Green Beans (consider adding mushrooms/onions/or any other veggies you like as well)
- Cheese that melts well (I’m using cheddar because it’s a great stuff)
- Roux ingredients (optional, but recommended) to build a better filling
- 1/2 tablespoon of Butter
- 1/2 tablespoon of Flour
- 1/2-3/4 cup of Milk
- Black Pepper (optional)
- Make the dough for your crust
- In your food processor, pulse together your 1/2 cup of flour and your butter until fully combined.
- Then, add some of your water, and pulse again. Add more of your water, and combine. Keep doing this until the dough starts to clump (see pictures below)
- When your dough begins to clump, pull it out of the food processor, massage it into a ball, and wrap it in saran wrap.
- Let the ball sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
- While the dough sets, dice your veggies and ham, and thinly slice or grate your cheese (if not using pre-grated)
- Give a quick oil spray to your pie vessel (I’m using 5″ cast iron pans, but use whatever you’ve got…you may just need to play with ratios).
- Roll out your dough thinly, and place it in your pie vessel. Then working carefully, press it up to cover the sides. Try not to break the dough or make it too thin in any areas while you do this.
- Turn your attention to your roux!
- Melt your butter (I used the 1/2 tbsp, but that may be right or wrong for you depending on your pie vessel size and filling quantities), and whisk in an equal amount of flour.
- Let this sit for a few moments, and then whisk in your milk.
- Lastly, add your cheese to this, and whisk until it thickens.
- Either 1. Put your ham and veggies in the pie crusts, and pour the roux over it or 2. Mix the ham and veggies into the roux, stir to combine, and then use that to fill in your pie crusts.
- If using cast iron, hit the pan with a few minutes on high heat on the stove. Then, stash the pans in the oven for 25-30 minutes. If you’re not using cast iron, just put it in the oven, and let it go for a few more minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and let sit for a minute or two so the filling can set a bit. Then, carefully remove the pies from your pan. They should come out pretty easily (thank you, spray oil magic!)
- Plate, devour, and enjoy!