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Math Never Tasted So Good

Mar 14, 2019

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986 … . It goes on into infinity. The digits never stop, and never repeat. Most simple uses do shorten pi to 3.14, though.

To refresh the memory of those who haven't been helping kids with math homework, pi is the Greek letter that represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Regardless of the size of the circle, pi remains the same. It is a constant. In his book, The Joy of Pi, David Blatner claims that no number has captured the attention and imagination of number fanatics and nerds throughout the ages as much as pi. Math geeks love their pi.

In mathematical circles, March 14 (3-14) is often set aside as a day of celebration for the digits of pi. Schools hold trivia contests, pie eating contests, math workouts, poetry contests and other events in honor of pi. 3-14 is Pi Day and a day to promote a little fun within the seriousness of the math world. It is the day that everyone recognizes the honest truth that pi makes things go ’round.

In honor of Pi Day, of course, I am going to share a pie recipe with you. I considered sweet and savory options and ultimately a Twitter poll determined that you would like to see a pie that is out of the ordinary (except for the person who voted that they didn’t like pi or pie … sorry, this isn’t for you).

Italian Meat Pie is a savory blend of ground beef, pepperoni and cheeses baked inside a crust that leans toward a modified cracker-thin pizza dough. My husband claims that the meaty filling reminds him of one of the best lasagnas he ever ate. To me, it is more spicy meatloaf. With my meatloaf, I like ketchup or gravy, and I think this meat pie could benefit from a light drizzle of marinara sauce on each serving, but it certainly isn’t necessary. However you slice it, Italian Meat Pie is an unconventional way to celebrate Pi Day or any day you are craving a savory pie.


 

Italian Meat Pie is a savory blend of ground beef, pepperoni and cheeses baked inside a thin crust.

Italian Meat Pie

(adapted from Handwritten Recipes, a Bookseller’s Collection of Curious and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages)

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Add the oil and pulse a couple of times to form a coarse meal. Turn the processor on and drizzle in water until flour pulls together to form a dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Cover with a towel and set aside while preparing the filling.

 

For the filling:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons tomato paste

kosher salt

freshly cracked pepper

6 ounces sliced pepperoni

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

4 eggs, beaten

12 ounces provolone cheese, shredded

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent. (Seasoning with a little salt may help the onions wilt more quickly as they cook, but don’t over salt. The pepperoni will add a lot of sodium to the filling.) Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add the ground beef and crumble and brown with the aromatics. If your ground beef is not lean, you may want to drain any excess fat after browning. Stir tomato paste into the browned beef. Season with salt (if you haven’t used with the onions) and pepper. 

While the onions and beef cook, pulse the pepperoni in a food processor until finely chopped. Add to the browned beef mixture. Stir in the parmesan cheese and beaten eggs. Fold in the shredded provolone until well incorporated.

 

To assemble:

Divide the pastry dough that has been resting into 2 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half out into a roughly 12-inch diameter disk. Press into a 10-inch tart pan with fluted edge and removable bottom. Press the dough up the sides against the scalloped edge. Leave any extra dough that overhangs the edges of the pan (it will be crimped with the top crust).

Spread the filling in the pie crust.

Roll out the second half of the pastry dough to a 10.5-inch diameter and gently place on top of the filling. Fold any extra dough from both top and bottom crusts over to the top and crimp together to seal the pie.

 

For the topping:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Cut vents in the top pastry dough. Brush crust with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Bake for 55 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove false bottom. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and slice into 8 wedges.

Extra: May serve with a little marinara sauce spooned over each wedge.

Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their two dogs ranch near Colome.

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