Otherwise known as Pi(e) Day.

In honor of the occasion, I made two pies (the first two pies of my life that did not involve store-bought graham-cracker crusts and tubs of cool-whip):

In a bowl, combine:

1½ lb beef chuck, trimmed and cut into ¾ in pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp all-purpose flour

Shake the excess flour off the beef. Heat 2T vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet, and brown the meat in batches. Set aside. Add:
1 T. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped

and saute until soft. Add:
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced (the original recipe called for white, but I used crimini)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (not in the original, but I can't imagine a dish like this without shallots)

Combine everything in a saucepan, and add:
¾ cup beef stock
¾ cup dark ale (I used an oatmeal stout; seemed fine to me)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste (didn't have this, so I left it out and compensated with some extra W. sauce; would probably be a good addition, though)
½ tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf

Simmer for an hour or so, until the beef is tender. Pour into a 9" pie plate. Place a pastry lid on the pie plate, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350, until the crust is golden brown.

At this point, the recipe called for frozen puff pastry. I don't keep puff pastry on hand, so I just used a regular pie crust. It worked -- really well, actually. If you want to do it the 'right' way, click on the link and read their instructions (the 'right' way also involves reserving some of the gravy, which I forgot to do).

Verdict: VERY tasty.


Par-bake a pie crust. I think that's what you call it. You make your piecrust and pre-bake it; this way the crust doesn't go all mushy on you when you put the custard in. I cooked mine for too long, so it came out a little crunchy under the filling.

Whisk together in a mixing bowl:

2 large eggs
1/4 C. sugar

In a saucepan, combine:
3/4 C. sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the egg mixture in a slow stream (from a great height, if possible -- it's more impressive that way), whisking constantly.

At this point, you can do what I did and pour it straight into the pie crust. Or you can do what the folks at Gourmet Magazine say to do, and cook it for 12 minutes first. It seemed to come out fine without the pre-cooking.

However you decide to proceed, bake it for 20 minutes at 350, 0r until the mixture is set. Dust evenly with cinnamon before serving.

Verdict: Good, but not stellar. On the other hand, I hate to criticize a recipe when I didn't follow it exactly, so we may give this one another try sometime in the future.

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