Flaky puff pastry with Dijon mustard, ham, swiss, caramelized onions, and a garlic-herb egg wash. This Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Slab Pie is great for Game Day, a casual brunch, or using leftover holiday ham.
I’ve been having a lot of fun looking through some of my mother’s old recipe books from the 70’s and early-80’s. Some of the recipes have made both of us chuckle a bit, but many have given me inspiration for some reinvented dishes.
This delicious Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Slab Pie evolved from a recipe my mother clipped around 1980.
In this reimagined retro recipe, I layer buttery, flaky puff pastry with Dijon mustard, thinly-sliced ham, shredded Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions. Baked until puffed and golden, the ham and cheese puff pastry makes a pretty, yet rustic presentation. It’s perfect for casual gatherings with friends.
The Retro Version of Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry
The recipe that this slab pie originated from was called “Greek Pizza,” though neither my mother nor I quite understands the name, because there’s really nothing “Greek” about it. (It’s much closer to a French ham and cheese pastry called, “Feuilleté Au Jambon”.)
The original “Greek Pizza” was a very rich bite (an understatement), calling for both a full pound of ham and a pound of cheese layered between two squares of mustard-brushed puff pastry. (Yikes!) The concept was good, but when it baked up, it was salty and soggy, and the overall feel was so heavy, I could barely manage more than a bite or two.
“This needs less cheese” aren’t words I speak often, but there was truly way too much of everything in the original pie.
Reinventing the Recipe: Ham and Cheese Slab Pie
When my mother and I decided to start tweaking the recipe, the first thing I did was dial back the ham and cheese quantities significantly, which lightened the texture. My mother had the great suggestion of adding caramelized onions and herbs for a touch of sweetness and freshness. (Thanks, Mom!)
In terms of cheese, I really wanted a Swiss variety that wouldn’t be too strong, throw too much oil, or become overly gooey and messy when it melted. (To avoid sogginess in a puff pastry dish like this, balance is key.)
I’ve made this with both Gruyère and Emmental. The former brings a more assertive, slightly saltier flavor to the baked pastry. While I love Grueyère, I found it richness to be a bit too heavy when baked with the other components of this recipe. Emmental is milder with a meltier texture, and is my favorite for this ham and cheese puff pastry.
Ever wonder about the holes in Swiss cheese? Check out, How Does Swiss Cheese Get its Holes? From The New Yorker.
If there’s one step I wouldn’t skip in the recipe, it’s cutting the slits in the top of the pie before baking. The steam needs to escape for all of those flaky layers in the pastry to puff properly.
Serving Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry
We most enjoy this slab pie after it’s allowed to cool for about 10 minutes, so that the butter in the puff pastry has a chance to settle and the flavors can meld a bit. With the fillings, I find that it can be a little too messy to slice and serve cleanly right out of the oven.
The pastry can be cut and served as either strips or squares, depending on the occasion and your guests. If you’re serving it as an appetizer with other dishes, small squares are great. For a casual lunch or brunch, I tend to cut larger strips or rectangles and serve them with lightly-dressed spring greens.
That said, I do like to serve this puff pastry slab pie while it’s still warm. I don’t find that it reheats well (it’s hard to regain the same flakiness in the puff pastry with the fillings), so it’s not a recipe that I bake in advance.
Since we were able to bring this oldie but goodie into 2018, I might be feeling inspired to throw on a pair of scrunch socks with my leggings and really party like it’s 1980. I promise to spare you the pics!
More Savory Puff Pastry Recipes for Casual Entertaining
- Holiday Leftovers Breakfast Puff Pastry Tart (I Just Make Sandwiches)
- Savory Palmiers (Striped Spatula)
- Sweet and Savory Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Puff Pastry Twist (Half Baked Harvest)
- Jalapeno and Smoked Gouda Puff Pastry Pinwheels (Sweet Peas and Saffron)
- Puff Pastry Appetizer with Pears, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese (Mediterranean Dish)
Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Slab Pie
- 2 sheets puff pastry , defrosted and rolled into 10-inch squares
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Smooth or grainy, your preference)
- 6 ounces shredded Emmental swiss cheese
- 4 ounces thinly-sliced ham (I use Black Forest or Virginia)
- 1/3 cup caramelized onions
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place one piece of puff pastry onto the baking sheet and spread with mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
- Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese over the mustard. Layer ham slices over the cheese, followed by the caramelized onions, thyme, and remaining cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, garlic powder, and parsley.
- Lightly brush the border of the puff pastry with the egg wash. Place the second square of puff pastry over the top and press the edges to seal.
- Brush a 1/2-inch border on the top sheet of puff pastry with egg wash. Fold bottom edge of puff pastry over to create a crust of double thickness. Crimp edges with a fork.
- Brush top of puff pastry with egg mixture (you won't use the entire amount). Cut three, 1- to 2-inch slits in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape while baking.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into squares or strips and serving.
- Substitute Cheddar or Jack cheeses for the Emmental. Or use a mix!
- Substitute Honey Mustard for the Dijon
- Instead of ham, try thinly-sliced roast beef with cream-style horseradish instead of mustard.
Originally Published February 2, 2016. Updated with new photos and video in 2018.