Can you believe it’s almost spring? Well, hold your horses—there’s still lots of winter left. That means there’s time to make of few more of the season's best comfort food recipes. Don’t pack the slow cooker away just yet, you’re going to need it for this delicious pot pie dish using… wait for it… ham hocks!
Have you used ham hocks before? Well, in simple terms the ham hock is a portion of the hog’s lower leg. This cut needs long cooking through braising or stewing to be at its best. Ham hocks add yummy flavour to soups or stews—truly comfort food at its best.
I find the best way to use ham hocks in a recipe is to prepare the meat ahead. It needs braising for 3 hours or 6-8 hours cooking away in a slow cooker. I like to do this step on the weekend—that way the meat is ready to go on the day I want to prepare the final dish.
Pot pie is a recipe that takes time, but so totally worth it. Some people are happy using frozen veggie in a pot pie, which is great in a pinch, but I like to take the time to make mine from scratch. However, instead of traditional crust over the pot pie, I like to use puff pastry. Not only is it crisp, flaky, and delicious, it’s easy. I just have to defrost and I’m ready to roll!
Take the extra time to enjoy this comfort food family pleaser. Enjoy!
3-5 hours (or 8-10 if using slow cooker)
- 2 ham hocks (about 3 kg)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 1/2 cups potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 cup red onion, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 cup carrot, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 cup celery, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups reserved cooking liquid
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
- Frozen puff pastry
- Place ham hocks, bay leaves, salt, and pepper in a Dutch oven. Add enough water to just cover hocks, cover, and bring to boil. Turn down heat and continue to simmer 3 hours until very tender (This can also be done in a slow cooker 6-8 hours on low).
- Leave to cool in the liquid. When cool, skim off fat and drain 2 cups of cooking liquid. Remove ham hocks to a cutting board, discarding fat and bones. Shred meat with two forks. Refrigerate both meat and reserved liquid for later.
- Thaw 1 sheet of puff pastry. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Press a 1.5-quart casserole lightly into the pastry and trim about 2 inches larger than the imprint. Transfer pastry to a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400 ºF.
- In a large pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until just-cooked.
- Add flour to veggie mixture and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Slowly, in several additions, stir in reserved cooking liquid and milk until a smooth sauce is achieved. Cook, stirring until mixture boils and thickens. Add in Dijon, honey, grainy mustard, thyme and ham hock meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 1.5-quart casserole dish.
- Prepare an egg wash by whisking egg with water. Remove pastry from refrigerator and brush surface lightly with egg wash. Invert pastry and place directly over filled casserole dish, pressing lightly to crimp and seal overhanging edges. Brush top surface lightly with egg wash. Cut six vents in the pastry to allow steam to escape.
- Place filled casserole on a baking sheet and bake in prepared oven for 35-45 minutes until pastry is golden. (Check after 20 minutes—if too brown, cover lightly with loose foil).