3.10.2010

Archi-meaty Pie [Hey, It’s Almost Pi Day!]

When I was doing research, I remember being cooped up in rooms with no windows and fluorescent lights. I spent most of my day programming, sitting in meetings, analyzing stats and collecting data. This was a little better during the actual experimental phase of the various research projects when I made people wear gigantic headphones, walk around blindfolded or made people run into the wall [accidently]. It was interesting, fun, and you learn a lot about human nature and problem solving. I learned that there are four perks in doing research even though you don’t make a whole lot of money doing it:

  1. You’re constantly learning new things
  2. You can say that you’re doing research: it makes you sound fancy and smart
  3. You can tell math jokes in the comfort of the research lab
  4. You can celebrate geeky holidays because research people are supposed to be kind of geeky like that: a number related holiday (like 1/23 or 3/14), an anniversary of a theory, or the day that you’re finally given the green light by the IRB.

Once such nerdy holiday is coming up…that would be Pi Day (3/14). I made a sweet and savory meat pie because I wanted to take advantage of Archimedes’ name and be able to say Archi-meaty. Word play!

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Archimedes tried to approximate the value of pi by drawing a bunch of polygons with a bunch of different sides via method of exhaustion, to make it as close to a perfect circle as possible. Here’s my recipe for the Archi-Meaty Pie, a Greek inspired lamb pie with apples and raisins.

For 9” Pie:

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 c. ground lamb (just less than a pound)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 tart apple, cored, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 c. raisins [raisins sound like the French word for reason…so I added it in the pie]
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz. Greek yogurt
  • 2 oz. feta cheese
  • 1 tsp. honey

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. cold butter, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. water (plus additional if necessary)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tsp. smoked Turkish pepper (optional)

For the filling, coat a medium sauce pan with olive oil on medium high. Let the oil heat up before adding in the lamb. Cook the lamb for a few minutes but it should still be slightly pink. Add in the diced onions, garlic, apples and raisins before adding in the orange zest and salt/pepper to taste. Let the filling cool to room temperature in a large mixing bowl.

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While the filling is cooling, make the pie crust by combining all of the ingredients for the pie crust except for the water, pepper, and thyme leaves. Work the dough with the hands and gradually add in the water until the dough looks like cornmeal: coarse. Add in the pepper and thyme leaves before working the dough one more time. Divide the dough in a half and refrigerate for about an hour. Now back to the filling! The seasoned lamb should be cool by the time the pie crust has chilled. In the mixing bowl with the lamb, add in the Greek yogurt, feta cheese and honey. Make sure it’s thoroughly mixed before adding additional salt and pepper to taste. There should be a noticeable sweet and savory contrast.

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Once the pie dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F. take out both halves and roll on half out on a clean, floured surface with a pastry pin. Flip the dough, flour, and roll it out a little more. Line a 9” pie dish with the crust; trim the excess dough if necessary. Carefully spoon in the pie filling into the dish evenly. Roll out the other half of the pie dough; slowly cover the filled pie with the rolled out dough. Trim and mold if necessary. Cut out 3-4 small slits towards the center of the pie. Place the pie in the center of the oven and bake for about an hour

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