When I hear the term slab pie, thoughts of fruit filling spread out on a sheet pan covered with pastry dough come to mind. Close enough. Only this time, instead of a sweet dessert we’ll be creating a savory hand-held serving of deliciousness. The texture and flavor remind me of chicken pot pie. Only this one is more compact and way cuter than your typical pot pie. And there’s no chicken but you will find lots of ham and gooey gruyere cheese. Soooo …the best place to start on this is at the beginning. With the pastry dough which, by the way, can be made a day or two ahead of time. Just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
It all comes together so easily in your food processor. Start with the flour, cubed butter, salt & pepper. Give it a few quick pulses until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. Add the cut-up cream cheese and steadily pulse until it all comes together. That should happen in less than a minute.
I used Bob’s Red Mill White Unbleached All-Purpose Flour but if you need to make a gluten-free version, replace that with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour for the dough as well as in the filling.
Since you’ll be lining the pan with a layer of dough, then finishing the slab pie with another layer you’ll need a double batch of pastry dough. Unless you have a super huge food processor, you’ll need to process two separate batches. The dough is very easy to work with. Place each batch in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Gently smooth it out with a rolling pin to form a rectangle. It helps to be sure that the air is removed from the bag before sealing and rolling.
Place the bags of dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until ready to use. Now …let’s talk about that delicious ham & cheese filling. For the ham, I chose to use Hatfield’s Classic Boneless Pre-Sliced Ham. Typically, the package will contain about 2 pounds. For this recipe, you’ll nee just 1 pound of cubed ham but I don’t mind having too much. The extra ham is so good when fried up with eggs. Also, as a side note …I always trim away the dark edges on each slice beforehand.
To be totally honest, there’s quite a bit of prep work on this. Totally worth it. And keep in mind that the pie can be assembled and refrigerated (unbaked) a full day in advance. Or you can bake it ahead of time, refrigerate, and reheat it just before serving. Since this is such a great dish for a large crowd, making it ahead of time is a good thing in my book.
The mixture needs to cool down a bit before adding the flour and shredded cheese. While that’s happening, why not get to work on shaping that pastry dough? You’ll be using a 15″ by 10″ baking pan for this. When you roll out the dough, you’ll make it larger than the pan so that it can be fitted into the corners with some excess hanging over the edges. Don’t get rid of that excess dough! You’ll need it if you want to decorate the top of the pie.
The filling should be cool enough now to add the flour and cheese. Once that is well combined, add it to the pan in an even layer.
Now it’s time to cover your creation with that second batch of pastry dough. If you prefer (or if you’re time is limited) you can simply roll out the dough, fold it in quarters then carefully cover the pan. Trim the excess and seal the edges.
But if you are like me and you love a challenge, let’s have some fun with this! Roll out the dough to a thickness of about an 1/8 of an inch. You should have a rectangle measuring around 12″ by 17″. In the center of the dough, measure and mark up a rectangle of 10″ by 15″. Cut away the excess saving it for the final decoration. Cut the 10″ by 15″ rectangle into ten 5″ by 3″ rectangles.
This is where you can really get creative. Use the excess dough to form trimmings to decorate each rectangle as desired. You can cut strips to make stripes or form a basket-weave pattern as I have here. Or you could use very small cookie cutters, such as hearts or stars, to create your own unique designs. When ready, use a floured wide spatula or bench scraper to transfer each rectangle onto your filling so they form neat rows.
A light coating of egg wash over the entire surface and this beauty is ready for the oven. One note of advice …keep an eye on the crust to be sure the edges don’t get too brown. I find that it’s helpful to use strips of foil to cover the edges about halfway through the baking process. And if the entire surface seems to be browning too quickly, cover the whole thing with a loose tent of foil then remove it for the last few minutes.
Talk about a crowd-pleaser. This is delicious while still warm from the oven. Or at room temperature. It can be eaten with a knife and fork. Or, better yet, as a hand-held meal.
ham & cheese slab pie
Breakfast casserole meets savory pot pie in this make-ahead brunch recipe. Kids will go wild for the ham and cheese, while adults will adore the scrumptious sauteed leeks, peppers, and peas.
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour (360 grams)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut up
Ham & Cheese Slab Pie
- 2 batches Pastry Dough
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups chopped leeks, white & light green parts only (about 16 ounces)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/4" cubes (about 3 cups)
- 2 cups chopped red sweet pepper (about 10 ounces)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or herb of your choice)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (6 ounces)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- 1 egg, for wash
- 15" x 10" x 1" baking pan
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, cubed butter, salt & pepper. Give it a few quick pulses until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. Add the cut-up cream cheese and steadily pulse until it all comes together. That should happen in less than a minute.
Place the dough in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Gently smooth it out with a rolling pin to form a rectangle. It helps to be sure that the air is removed from the bag before sealing and rolling.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until ready to use.
Ham & Cheese Slab Pie
For the filling, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat in a medium-large saucepan. Add the chopped leeks and minced garlic. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add the broth and mustard; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in diced ham, sweet peppers, peas, herbs, parsley, and salt. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the Gruyere cheese and flour.
On a floured surface, roll one batch of Pastry Dough to a 17 x 12-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Fold into quarters; unfold into a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Ease into sides and corners. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond pan edges. Cover and chill trimmings.
Transfer the filling to the pastry-lined baking pan. Preheat oven to 375°F.
On a floured surface, roll the second batch of Pastry Dough to a 17 x 12-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim to a 15 x 10-inch rectangle; reserve trimmings. Fold the pastry into quarters; unfold over the filling. (Or see alternate method) Fold edge of bottom pastry over top; pinch to seal. Brush entire surface with egg wash.
Alternate method: Cut the 15 x 10-inch rectangle into ten 5 x 3-inch rectangles. Roll out and use the trimmings to decorate each rectangle as desired. Using a floured wide spatula or bench scraper, transfer each rectangle onto your filling so they form neat rows. Fold bottom edges over top and pinch to seal. Brush entire surface with egg wash.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes; cut into 10 rectangles to serve. If desired, partially wrap each portion with waxed paper or bakery tissue; tie with kitchen twine. Serve warm or at room temperature (pie can sit out for up to 2 hours). Reheat any remaining slices in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
Make Ahead Tip:
The pie can be assembled and refrigerated (unbaked) one day in advance. Or bake ahead, refrigerate, and reheat in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.