The words, “Let it Snow” have always been forbidden in my life. For one, my dad has been snowplowing most of my life so the idea of having a white Christmas usually meant that I would be spending Christmas without my father. Bing Crosby always forgot about that little detail. Once I started driving, the presence of even a few mere inches meant that I could anticipate crazy-ass drivers who believed four-wheel drive also meant four-wheel stop and then then wait an extra hour as the highway patrol cleared up their misinterpretation.
Geez, I’m starting to sound like a Scrooge. Nonetheless, despite my not-so-pleasant associations with snow, I do still love being surrounded by white. I guess I still hang onto the childlike anticipation that the city around me will shut down and I will get a nice snow day. Once you actually say “screw it” and stand by your convictions that the weather is too miserable to be out and about so whatever responsibilities you had will just have to wait; you suddenly feel total freedom. You are forced to just stay inside (or not) and take some time for yourself.
So what do I do on a snowday? Well cook, of course. What better time for pure, unadulterated comfort food. (Not to mention I’m cheap on heat so having an excuse to stand next to a nice hot stove will never go unappreciated) Calories be damned, when the snow starts to blow I want good, stick to your ribs, hot, hearty goodness. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a good meat pie. Chicken, steak, pork, I don’t care. I LOVE meat pies. Crispy crust, oozing gravy, tender veggies, fall apart tender meats, what is not to love!
In the midst of carb-heavy holiday madness, I decided to take a chance and shy away from the standard butter-flour heavy piecrust. Instead I cut some delicious blue potatoes from my winter CSA box into paper-thin slices, laid them in concentric circles around the top of the filling and baked at a hot temp until nice and crispy. Not exactly a complex carb, but I would still call it an improvement…and the taste is nothing to scoff at.
The other renegade move I made with this dish was to use a braise technique. Sure, you can always use a quick-cook cut of meat like thinly sliced sirloin when making a meat pie but if you really want the flavor of beef to come through, braising is the way to go. I chose a tougher cut of meat, the short ribs, which are wonderfully flavorful and cook up to fall apart tenderness if you give them enough time. Whenever I do a braise with beef, a nice dark beer is my braising liquid of choice. A rich black stout or porter just pairs with the beefy richness so nicely it was like they were meant to be together. I throw stout in chili, in beef stews. If beef needs a drink, I am happy to serve it a nice dark cold one.
Braised Short Rib Pot Pie with Blue Potato Crust
A word about braising with beef:Beef is amazing when the outside is caramelized. While some meats get really tough if you try to brown the outside, beef just locks in it’s juices and creates this decadent, delicious crust on the outside.
* 3-4 pounds of boneless short ribs (grassfed)
* 1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 5 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 bottle stout
* 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary (Use fresh if possible, I’ve used dried before and it’s not as good)
* 1/2 lb halved Candy Onions (Pearl or Cipollini work too)
* 5 med Blue Potatoes, sliced paper thin (Use a mandolin if possible)
Preheat oven to 300F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Dredge meat in seasoned flour, turning to coat. Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil over high heat. Working 4-5 ribs at a time, sear each side, turning only after each side is dark brown (about 1 min per side). Transfer ribs to a plate and finish the remaining ribs.
Reduce heat to medium, add another drizzle of olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic, stir briefly and immediately add beer. (Don’t cook garlic too long, it’ll get bitter if burned). Scrape up all the brown bits of the bottom and incorporate into the sauce. Return ribs to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 3 hours.
Add halved candy onions to the pot and braise another 30 min or so until onions are translucent and and meat is tender. Shred meat with 2 forks and return to sauce, tossing to coat. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer filling to a 9″ pie plate. Raise oven temp to 375F, arrange potato slices in overlapping, concentric circles over the top of the filling. Brush potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake about 30 min until filling is bubbly and potatoes are crisp.
Potatoes and Candy Onions-Lora Nourishing Produce Winter CSA
Beer-Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout