I am here today to share a lovely recipe with you for a Mashed Potato Pie with Peas, Ham & Chives. This easy-to-make recipe is one which you will find yourself turning to time and time again. Not only does it use simple ingredients that most of us have in our kitchens most of the time, but you can also put it together ahead of time, ready to bang it into the oven when you get home at the end of the day after work. This makes it ideal for working moms with hungry children nipping at their heels!
All you need on the side is a tossed salad or a cooked vegetable and some crusty bread. Not only is it a simple and easy to make recipe, but it is also a very economical recipe. All of these qualities serve to work together in making it a very “Family-Friendly” recipe.
Gather All the Ingredients
We are harvesting fresh potatoes from the garden at the moment, and this recipe a wonderful way of using them. It is important to note however that you cannot use just any kind of potato. You will want to use a good all-rounder potato, with a mealy texture that is suitable for mashing. Baking potatoes also work very well for this dish.
You will need a knob of butter. I always use regular salted butter when I am cooking. In all honesty I buy Danish lightly salted butter and I find it suitable for both baking and cooking. For a recipe such as this which includes ham and cheese which are both salty, you will want to use only a lightly salted butter, or an unsalted butter.
Fresh chives are a must. They add colour and flavour to the dish. There is also one onion that is chopped and fried to golden brown, a good strong cheddar cheese, some baked ham, a free-range egg, cream (or milk), a knob of butter, frozen baby peas and of course seasoning.
For the ham you can use leftover roasted ham or thick-sliced ham you pick up at the deli. You will only need about 4 slices, about ¼ inch thick. You don’t really want them to be paper thin, although you can use that certainly if that is all you have. The ham slices are slivered, using a sharp Chef’s knife. I fold or roll the ham up and then cut it crosswise into thin slices. Easy peasy.
I favour a well flavoured, undyed strong white cheddar cheese for this dish. You will need about 1 cup in total, which will be divided. Some will go into the pie mix and some will be sprinkled on top. Do take the time to grate your own. Pre-grated cheese always has things added to it to make it flow easier. You don’t want to use that in this recipe as it will change the consistency of the finished dish and may even make it gluey.
A good old-fashioned box grater works best, grating on the large holes. If a few bits get into your mouth while you are grating, don’t worry. Nobody will notice. In all truth I sometimes add a bit more than a cup of cheese. It all depends on how generous I am feeling, but a cup of cheese is the very least you will need.
Snipped chives add a touch of colour and some additional flavour. I love the mild onion flavour of them. If you have garlic chives, so much the better! My father used to grow his own chives in a huge cement plant pot outside our front door. I never see or use chives but what I think of him. When I was a young bride, living in my own house, he sometimes stopped by my home for lunch. I would make him pan toasted bologna and cheese sandwiches, always tucking in a few springs of fresh chives. He loved them.
When I am preparing the chives for this recipe, I use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip them into bits. Kitchen scissors do a great job, and you can very easily control the size of them. You will want them finely snipped.
Prepping the Potatoes
The main ingredient of this dish will be the potatoes of course. This is a potato pie after all. Here in the UK, a pie doesn’t necessarily need to have a crust and you will find that this is one of those dishes/pies that has no crust. Instead, the potatoes bake all golden brown on the outsides creating a kind of a crust.
You will need to wash and peel your potatoes. I like to use a metal swivel potato peeled for this with a rounded end. That rounded end is the perfect tool for digging out any stubborn and unwanted eyes. A potato peeler also makes sure you only remove a thin layer from the potato so there isn’t a lot of waste.
I remember when I was a girl going for my “Cook’s Badge” for the girl guides. We were not allowed to use a peeler gadget to peel our vegetables. We had to use a paring knife. I practiced for hours peeling potatoes and carrots for my mom using a paring knife. I became quite good at removing only a thin layer of skin, but it can be somewhat fiddly, so one of these swivel peelers does the trick much faster.
You will be cutting the potatoes into cubes after you have peeled them. I cut them into cubes about 2 inches square and cover them in lightly salted water. I throw in a fresh bay leaf from our bay tree which helps to infuse the potatoes with even more flavour. You can use a dried bay leaf as well. I always like to break them in half which helps to release the natural oils and flavours.
While the potatoes are cooking you can deal with the onions.
Moving On to the Onions
You will want to cut your onions with a nice sharp knife. I like to keep my knives in tip-top condition by always making sure they are sharp. A dull knife is probably the most dangerous tool you can have in the kitchen.
I start by cutting off both ends of the onion and slipping off the peel. I then cut it in half lengthwise so that I have a flat surface to set the onion on for safety purposes. I don’t want it rolling about underneath my knife so doing this makes sure that won’t happen, and then I just cut it in thin slices towards the stem end and then again crosswise. A perfect dice every time. The size of the dice will depend on how wide you make the cuts.
The onion is then browned lightly in a small skillet with some olive oil along with a pinch of salt. Don’t rush this step. You don’t want them to be burnt, just a light golden brown. These can be cooked while you are cooking the potatoes, and both will be finished and ready at about the same time.
Let the Mashing Begin!
Once the potatoes are tender you will need to drain them and mash them. This is the type of potato masher that I favour above all others. It is the same type of masher that my mother used, and it works a charm. You could also use a potato ricer if you want a smoother result, but mashed potatoes with a few lumps always speak “Home Sweet Home” to me!
I drain my potatoes in a large colander and then I return them to the pan I cooked them in, shaking them over the residual heat from the burner to dry them out. You don’t want wet soggy potatoes. Soggy wet potatoes don’t make for a very good mash. Dry is the best. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
You can warm the cream or milk a bit if you like. I find that you get better results if it is not refrigerator cold, but it’s your choice. Just pop the cream or milk, butter, and seasonings into the pan with the cooked potatoes and mash away, seasoning lightly to taste with salt and black pepper.
Mixing It All Together
Once you have the potatoes mashed and the onions fried it is time to mix it all together.
I like to use frozen baby peas. I thaw them out simply by putting them in a cup and pouring boiling water over them. Just let them sit for a few minutes and then drain well.
Throw them into the pot of mashed potatoes, along with the fried onions, chives, slivered ham, beaten egg and ¾ of the grated cheese.
Mix everything together thoroughly but do use a light hand when you are doing this. You don’t want to squash the peas or break anything up too much. It is best if each of the ingredients maintains its own integrity! It just looks better in the finished dish.
You will need a shallow gratin or tart dish. I like to use a glass one. Butter it really well, then spread the potato mixture into the dish evenly. I rough the top up a bit with a fork. The rest of the cheese gets sprinkled evenly over top and your potato pie is now ready to pop into the oven!
Baking the Mashed Potato Pie
Approximately 40 to 45 minutes later you will be rewarded with a beautiful, well flavoured Potato Pie, studded with bits of delicious ham, sautéed onions, flecks of chives and rich with cheese! With its beautifully crisp and buttery crust on the bottom and delightfully cheesy upper crust, your family are sure to be smiling broadly as you bring it to the table! You can throw a few more chives on top to dress it up a bit if you wish.
If you are a vegetarian, you can leave out the ham altogether and you will have a lovely cheese and potato pie. In that case, I would definitely add at least an additional half cup of cheese.
Ready to Serve
If you are making it ahead, you can do everything right up to the point where you are ready to pop it into the oven. Cover it lightly with some plastic cling film and put it into the refrigerator to chill. Take it out when you get home and let it sit on the counter while you are preheating the oven, and then pop it in to bake as per the recipe. You can make your salad, set the table and cut your bread while it is baking.
I think you will find that this is a dish your family is going to ask you to prepare for them on a regular basis!
Mashed Potato Pie with Peas, Ham & Chives Recipe
You can serve this either as a light main dish, or as a side to other things such as roasted chicken or pork. If you omit the ham altogether, it makes a great Vegetarian main. In that case I would make a salad to serve on the side. Buttered crusty bread also goes very well with this!
- Softened butter to butter the baking dish
- 2 ¼ pounds floury potatoes (meant for mashing)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2/3 cup of frozen or fresh podded peas
- 240ml milk or cream, or a mixture of both
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- 4 thick slices baked ham, cut into ribbons
- A small bunch of fresh chives, snipped with some kitchen scissors
- 1 cup strong/sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Butter a 9 ½ inch round gratin or ceramic tart tin really well and set aside.
- Peel your potatoes and then cut them into chunks about 2 inches in size. Place into a pot filled with lightly salted water to cover, along with the bay leaf. I break the bay leaf in half to release the natural oils and flavours.
- Bring to the boil. Cook until tender – about 15 minutes or so.
- While the potatoes are cooking, Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the onions, along with a pinch of salt and fry, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Set aside.
- Put the peas into a bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let sit for 3 minutes, then drain well. Set aside.
- Drain the cooked potatoes really well, discarding the bay leaf. Return to the saucepan and shake the pan over the residual heat to dry them out well. Add the butter and start to mash them, mashing in enough cream/milk to give you a proper consistency. Depending on the potato, you may not need it all.
- Mash until fairly smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Remember ham and cheese are both salty ingredients, so err on the side of caution. You can always add more salt later, but you can’t take it out.
- Beat in the egg, until well mixed. Stir in the cooked onion, the drained peas, slivered ham and half of the cheddar cheese, mixing all well together.
- Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish. Rough up the tops with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over top evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot or warm as desired.
Complete Steps in Pictures
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Marie Rayner is a Canadian, who moved over to the UK and began a new life in the year 2000. At the age of 45 she decided she needed a career change and went back to College to take a Chef’s course, after which she worked as a Personel Chef for a number of years.