The thing that I enjoy most about holidays is the food. I love to think about what we should prepare, I love cooking it, and of course, I LOVE to eat it! And ever since meeting my husband, I have been exposed to a whole assortment of Italian-American dishes that had, until recently, been totally new to me. One of these dishes is pizza rustica.
Pizza rustica is a savory pie filled with a ricotta cheese mixture that is laden with salami and other tasty meats. What exactly goes into a pizza rustica depends on whose recipe you are using. I have even seen one recipe that calls for spinach, which surprised me because I thought all additions were strictly supposed to be meat and preferably some kind of pork product. Yum!
I don’t exactly recall how I learned of pizza rustica, but it must have been from mother-in-law. I was intrigued because it sounded kind of like the gigantic pie that had been served as the grand finale in the movie “The Big Night”. I loved that movie and had always wondered what that dish was. My mother-in-law said that it was probably a timbale and not a pizza rustica, but nevertheless, I was still very interested in making a pizza rustica. I looked online and in some of my cookbooks for a recipe and made one last year. I wasn’t too impressed by it. So, this year I planned ahead and asked my mother-in-law for her recipes. She brought out an old Naples cookbook and some old recipe clippings. The recipe I chose was from the Naples cookbook, and it makes two pies. The recipe may look a little bit time consuming, but it really isn’t. Just leave yourself enough time for the dough to rise twice, about 3 hours.
For the dough:
1 1/4 tsp. yeast
1/2 cp warm water
3 cp unbleached flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 T lard/shortening
3 lightly beaten eggs
- Dissolve yeast in water and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. Stir in the eggs and the dissolved yeast.
- While it is still in the bowl, knead the dough, sprinkling it with a little bit of flour to make it less sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Place the dough in a oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. This took me about 1.5 hours.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise a 2nd time, also about 1.5 hours.
|Dough before 1st rise|
|Dough after 1st rise|
For the filling:
3 oz. soppresata, cut into 1/8 dice
3 oz. prosciutto, cut into 1/8 dice
3 oz. cooked ham, cut into 1/8 dice
3 sweet Italian sausages, boiled, skinned and finely chopped (reserve cooking water)
8 oz. mozzarella, 1/4 dice
2 oz. pepperoni, 1/8 dice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/4 cp ricotta
1/2 cp grated parmigiana
3/4 cp finely cut parsley
4 hard boiled eggs; 2 chopped, 2 sliced
1 tsp pepper
1 egg for egg wash
- While the dough is in its 2nd rise, prepare the filling ingredients and combined all except the 2 sliced eggs and egg wash. Stir in about 1/2 cp of the sausage cooking water. The filling will be thick.
Assembling and baking:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Punch down the dough and divide into 4 pieces for 2 10-inch pie plates.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of down into a 14-15 inch circle. Drape and press lightly into one pie plate.
- Fill it with 1/2 the filling. Top it with the slices from one hard boiled egg.
- Roll out another piece of dough into an 11 inch circle.
- Cover the filling and pinch the edges to seal. Cut 4 slits into the top crust and then brush with the egg wash.
- Repeat to make the 2nd pie.
- Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour. After 30 minutes, rotate the pans if they are on different shelves in the oven and cover with foil if the crusts are getting too brown.
- Let it cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from the plate to cool completely. (I didn’t do this. I just left them in the plates).
- It keeps in the refrigerator well wrapped. I am actually going to freeze the 2nd pie. I will tell you how that turns out.
|Before going into the oven…|
|Aren’t they festive??!!|