It's a Good One: Pizza Rustica (Recipe!)

Yes, Easter is over, and yes, Pizza Rustica is really an Easter treat. But it occurred to me yesterday, as I was filling my belly with ricotta and salami, that this is something everyone should know about. So if you're mom didn't whip up an Easter pie, you deserve one. It's a perfect thing to make for a picnic lunch or to eat with some cocktails. Let's say it's a Spring treat, not just for Easter. Here is my mother's recipe, adapted from Arthur Schwartz's book, Naples at Table.

Pizza Rustica

For the dough: 1 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast 1/2 cup warm water 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening or lard 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a small bowl.

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Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of your standing mixer. Use your hands or, if using the standing mixer, the dough hook attachment, to mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the vegetable shortening or lard, bit by bit, and combine. Do not over-mix.

Add the eggs and the dissolved yeast and combine. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand, or use the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and silky. (About 8 minutes by hand or 4 in the machine).

Form the dough into a ball and dust with flour. Place it in a large bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.

Let the dough rise to double (this could take an hour and a half). Punch down the dough and let it rise again.

Cut the dough into 2 pieces--1/3 and 2/3 portions. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the Filling: 2 hot Italian sausages 2 sweet Italian sausages 3 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta, drained of excess liquid 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano 1/2 cup chopped parsley 1/2 pound Sopressata, diced small (about 1/4 inch) 1/2 pound prosciutto, diced small 8 ounces mozzarella, diced small black pepper 1 egg to brush the top

Put the sausages in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil on the stove. Let them boil for about 30 seconds. Take them out, let them cool, then remove the skin and chop them in about 1/4 inch pieces.

Combine all the ingredients (except the last egg) in a large bowl. The mixture should be thick, but a little water can be added to make it workable. (It will depend on your ricotta.)

Grease a 9 1/2 inch spring-form pan with olive oil.

Roll out the larger piece of dough until it's thin and large enough to fit in the pan, covering the bottom and sides, with about an inch extra at the top. This will take some muscle and about 10 minutes. Line the pan with the sheet of dough.

Pour in the filling.

Roll out the second piece of dough till it's at least 10 inches in diameter. Place it on top of the filling and crimp the edges together.

Make an eggs wash: beat one eggs with a splash of water. Brush the top of the pie. Use a sharp knife to make 6 three-inch slits in the top of the pie.

Bake for 1 hour, until the pie is golden brown. If the top is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a tin foil tent.

Let the pie cool in the pan until you're ready to serve it. It can be made a day in advance.


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