Happy Pi Day!
I just couldn’t let today slip by without some kind of acknowledgement.
So I was looking for inspiration and happened to be flipping through my copy of “The Unofficial HarryPotter Cookbook,” which I received for my birthday (thanks, Lopa!), and found what I was looking for — meat pies. I used one of the recipes as my how-to for technique and then played around with the filling for how I wanted it to taste. Of course you realize I wouldn’t be making the crust from scratch. That’s a project for after tax season!
Somewhere along the way I think I’ve also managed to teach myself how to make beef stew from scratch!
Mini Meat “Pi”
Adapted from Individual Beef Pies in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook,” by Dinah Bucholz
16 oz. chuck roast, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Crushed black pepper
2 tsp. each dried rosemary and thyme
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 small potato, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen carrots and peas
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 in the package), or homemade equivalent
1 egg, beaten
If you’re making the pie crusts from scratch, make the equivalent of 2 9-inch pie crusts and chill in fridge.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, brown the beef cubes in 2 batches, seasoning with black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Set beef aside on a plate. Brown onions in pan drippings, adding broth or water as necessary to prevent burning. (Remember to turn on your exhaust fan when browning the beef, unless you want to set the smoke detector off and wake up a grumpy husband! He forgave me once the pies were done.)
Once onion has browned, add beef cubes back, then add in dried rosemary and thyme. Sprinkle flour over beef, then add broth, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add diced potatoes, carrots, and peas. Cook another 30 minutes, or until beef is tender. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and let cool. For beef stew, follow directions through this step, omitting anything to do with crusts.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take pie crusts out from fridge. Roll one of the crusts very thin and cut out circles approximately 4.5 inches in diameter. I was able to get 5 circles initially. Set scraps aside. PS — I was a nerd and measured several bowls and cups until I found something that worked.
Roll out the remaining crust and cut out circles approximately 3.5 inches in diameter. I was able to get 6 and was able to get one more large circle. I then took the pie crust scraps, rolled into a ball and rolled out, cutting more sets of the large and small circles, repeating as necessary until I used up most of the dough. I was able to end up with a total of 10 large circles and 10 small circles.
Spray the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin. Take a large circle of dough and set it in one of the cups, you’ll probably have to make pleats to make it fit. Repeat with remaining large circles.
Spoon beef filling into cups. You will have some filling leftover — enjoy it as beef stew!
Lay a small circle on top of one of the filled cups. I squished each circle into the muffin cup and then pinched the top and bottom crusts around the edges. Note — long nails and dough don’t mix.
Cut slits into top of each pie, then brush with beaten egg. If you have any empty cups, pour water into them. Bake for 10 minutes at 425, then lower heat to 350 and bake for 20 minutes, until pies are golden brown.
Please, please let these cool before you start wolfing them down, or else you’ll burn your mouth like I did.
And don’t plan on leftovers staying that way for long. Mr. Spice liked these A LOT and the 3 leftover pies were devoured before the night was over.