Spring is nowhere in sight here in Chicago. This last week we were back to negative degree wind chills and several inches of snow. I made a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and was feeling a little souped out. But I still craved the kind of soul warming fare reserved for snowy winter nights. Then like a gift from the culinary fairies the new issue of Bon Appetit arrived in my mailbox. On the cover was the most delicious looking photo of short rib pot pies. Coincidentally, Kevin and I had recently been to Billy Sunday and had split a mouth-watering short rib pot pie while sipping cocktails at the bar. I had a recipe in my hands, cold weather outside and a hungry belly. Why not try to whip up this pot pie on my own?
The pot of meat simmered on the stove for 3 hours filling the house with such an intense beefy smell that I couldn’t wait to dig in. The recipe says to stir in order to break up the short ribs but I scooped the meat out, shredded it with a fork and then added it back to the pot. The stirring wasn’t doing the job. Besides the ribs, the only other filling the recipe calls for is pearl onions. Granted, the only pot pies I grew up eating were chicken but they were always stuffed with a variety of vegetables. In this case, I happened to have carrots in the fridge and peas in the freezer so I threw those in. You can never have too many vegetables, especially in a pot pie. Despite the very satisfying and incredibly tasty filling, the one word that made my tastebuds want to scream with pleasure was “crust”. Crust. CRUST! God bless the Bon Appetit chefs for giving me this recipe for pot pie crust. I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical when the recipe called for equal parts butter and vegetable shortening. Shortening? Why on earth would I need shortening when butter is available? Butter is supposed to be best, yes? In the case of this dough, shortening was the magic ingredient that elevated this crust to something of mythical proportions. I have never used shortening. This was my first time…and it won’t be my last! Since I was at Whole Foods to buy the short ribs I went ahead and bought the organic butter flavored vegetable shortening there, as well. I don’t think all shortening is butter flavored but I would advice you not to use anything but. What came out of that oven was the flakiest, tastiest, butteriest crust I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. I thought the crust would be second string to the short rib filling and boy was I wrong. This was one food moment I was not expecting. It’s such a joy and relief when a recipe you’ve never tried before comes out better than you could have hoped.