Is it irrational for me to celebrate Pi Day this year?  Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14).   Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  (Do you remember this from school?) The approximation to 3 digits is 3.14 hence the reason Pi Day is celebrated on 3-14.  (Now real geeks are wondering why I didn’t wait until next year…3/14/15 at 9:26:53.589…to write a post on Pi.)

The cool thing about Pi is that it has been calculated to over ONE TRILLION digits beyond its decimal point without ever showing a pattern or any sort of repetition!  (The exclamation point is to make you think this is really cool and get you excited about math.)

Oh I jest, pi really is exciting.  You can take the circumference of any circle, divide it by the diameter and ALWAYS end up with the same number…Pi!!!  (This is a great party game for your nerdy friends.)

So when I received the March issue of Bon Appétit, I knew cooking the cover (Savory Short Rib Pot Pie) would be the perfect way to celebrate Pi day.

The biggest challenge for me in cooking the cover is following the recipe.  I, much like Pi, tend to be irrational.  I look at the recipe and get intimidated even though I KNOW I can do it.

The big thing that threw me off on this one was making a piecrust.  I am not a pastry kind of gal.  (Unless someone is serving it to me on a cute little plate with a latte.)  I knew after reading the recipe I HAD to make my own piecrust.

I did make my own crust but I switched one thing…I used duck fat instead of beef lard.  I fell in love with piecrust made with duck fat a couple of years ago.  (Plus, I had some duck fat I wanted to use up.)

The other different angle I took was that I used chuck instead of short ribs.  Living in a small town, short ribs aren’t available very often and due to ANOTHER winter storm this week, I was unable to get to one of the bigger markets.

Chuck doesn’t have that rich, unctuous flavor of short ribs but the seasoning of the potpie was really good.  Honestly, give me any slow braised beef and I am a happy camper no matter what Mother Nature has in mind.

My only other recommendation would be to make the smaller individual pies.  The smaller pies give you more crust and the crust is really awesome in the gravy.

I used ovenproof soup bowls that had little handles.   The handle helped pull them out of the oven and it was something to hold on to when I was scooping out every last bite of that rich gravy!

Short Rib Pot Pie

Adapted/Copied From Bon Appétit’s March 2014 Issue

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ cup vegetable duck fat

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

3 pounds chuck, cut into 2” pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 10-oz. package frozen pearl onions, thawed (make sure they are REALLY thawed out all the way)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups dry red wine

2 sprigs rosemary

6 sprigs thyme, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped thyme

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Heavy cream (for brushing)

PREPARATION

CRUST

• Pulse flour and salt in a food processor; add butter and duck fat and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl and drizzle with ½ cup ice water. Mix with a fork until dough just comes together.
• Knead dough lightly, adding more water by the tablespoonful if needed, until no dry spots remain (dough will be slightly shaggy but moist). Form into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

•  Preheat oven to 375°. Season chuck with kosher salt and pepper; toss with ½ cup flour on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, shake excess flour from meat and cook, turning occasionally, until deeply browned, 8–10 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl.
• Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown; season with kosher salt and pepper and, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl. (Don’t try to skip a step by leaving these in the pot.  They contain a lot of liquid and will hinder the thickening of your gravy.)
• Reduce heat to medium; add garlic to pot, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
• Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes. Add wine, rosemary, and thyme sprigs, bring to a boil, and cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is reduced by half, 8–10 minutes. Add 6 cups water to pot and bring to a boil.
• Return chuck to pot; season with kosher salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, until the beef can be shredded, almost falling apart and liquid is thick enough to lightly coat a spoon, 2½–3 hours.
• Add onions and chopped thyme to pot and stir to break up short ribs; season filling with kosher salt and pepper. Remove herb sprigs.
• Transfer filling to 4-6 individual ovenproof dishes.
•  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ⅛” thick.
•  Place over filling and trim, leaving overhang. Tuck edges under and crimp. Cut a few slits in crust. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sea salt. (The salt on top of the crust was awesome!!)
•  Place dishes on a rimmed baking sheets and bake potpie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, 35–40 minutes for smaller dishes. Let sit 5–10 minutes before serving.

DO AHEAD: Filling can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat gently before assembling pie.

So I am 3 for 3 on cooking Bon Appétit’s covers.  I am enjoying the challenge but fear any more pastry!!!  But unlike Pi…I won’t go on and on and on and on……