Pi Day, March 14, is not a favorite of mine; I don’t care for sickeningly sweet dessert pies and, to my mind, associating a significant achievement in mathematical understanding with a meaninglessly arbitrary calendar date smacks of numerology. (Consider Neil deGrasse Tyson’s take on it here.)
Still, I appreciate the frivolity of partying for no real reason other than the coincidence of a date and mathematical constant, so I’m up for a Pie Day this year and looking forward to the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day, at least the ridiculous way we observe it in the United States: with lots of beer and delicious corned beef and cabbage, but perhaps not the parades.
For this meal we decided to roll Pi Day and Saint Patrick’s Day treats into one: a meat pie. While corned beef and cabbage would be wonderful fillings for, say, cornish pasties, today’s pie should be as round as possible.
To begin preparing the pie filling, we cooked a store-bought corned beef brisket (3 1/3 pounds including liquid in package) in a roasting pan in the oven. The roasting pan was filled to about 1 inch depth with a mix of water and beer (a bottle of Milwaukee Brewing Co.’s Polish Moon sweet milk stout), pepper corns, whole mustard seed and the random pickling/corning spices supplied in the package. Specifically, we cooked the brisket, fat-side up, for 2.5 hours, covered, at 350° F and then about 20 additional minutes, uncovered, at 375° F.
After resting for some time, about half of the brisket (perhaps a bit more than 1 pound), was cut into medium/large cubes. While larger than the vegetable filling ingredients (below), I wanted to retain the meat texture rather than turning it all into a fine mince.
To prepare the filling, we finely chopped or cubed savoy cabage (1/2 head), yellow onion (1/2 large), carrot, and a few red potatoes. These were then sautéed in fatty drippings from the corned beef, and seasoned with dill and thyme.
So that the filling would be moist, we added water and flour to thicken into a roux-like sauce.
Finally, the filling was seasoned to taste with the additions of ground black pepper, nutmeg, and mustard (e.g., Grey Poupon Country Dijon) and the cubed corned beef added; since the corned beef and its drippings are so salty, there’s definitely no need for added salt!
Now, on to the pie crust… not our area of expertise, but my partner volunteered to do all the work here; she prepared a wonderful flaky, cream cheese pie crust guided by this recipe and some tips from a Betty Crocker cook book.
If you’re not willing to make the pie crust from scratch, I’ve had good luck using Trader Joe’s pie crust, although it is sweeter than this and a bit sweeter than I like for a savory meat pie.
The pie shell was filled and the top piece cut slightly larger than the pie dish, so that it could be folded over the edge of the lower crust piece, and pinched closed.
Vent slits were cut into the pie top, and we baked it for about 45 minutes at 375° F, painting the top with an egg wash about half way through the cooking, and removing it when the crust was a beautiful golden brown.
From the oven, let the pie rest for a bit and enjoy a beer before digging in.
Thankfully, this meat pie held together quite well and, thus, is the easiest thing in the world to serve… just deliver a piece or two, or three, per person. :)
This was a great dinner, and the leftovers look good too… so I’ll have it both for Pi Day and for Saint Patrick’s Day. This would make a fine meal for Saint Patrick’s Day itself or based on the leftovers from that feast.
Here is the pie crust recipe we used:
- Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust (Epicurious)
and some pie recipes that we didn’t use, but in which you might be interested:
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Pot Pies
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Quiche
- Leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage Pie
Here are a couple related posts of mine: