Easter in an Italian family may be celebrated with several different specialty items such as Pastiera (wheat pie) Quaresimali (Lenten biscotti) and Pizza Rustica. Pizza Rustica also called pizza ripiena (stuffed pie) or some Italian Americans call it pizza gain, as my family does. Pizza gain is a savory dish filled with ricotta cheese, diced cheeses and pork products. It is made to celebrate the end of Lent and the fasting from eating meat. As I now have a granddaughter, I felt the need to continue the family tradition of making pizza gain.
My mother’s recipe is made with ricotta cheese, basket cheese, eggs, Locatelli Romano cheese, boiled ham, prosciutto, pepperoni and mozzarella and at a cost of almost $30; it is not an inexpensive dish to prepare. With just over four pounds of cheese, approximately 2 pounds of meat, ½ pound butter, 4 cups of flour, ¼ cup Locatelli Romano cheese and 14 eggs, the final product weighs in at over 10 pounds
But with that said, it’s not a difficult recipe to prepare. This time I made the crust using a food processor and it worked out well. I diced all the meats and mozzarella ahead. For the filling I used a six quart Dutch oven pot. Once I had the pizza gain done, it was off to the oven for approximately an hour. After cooling, it needed to be chilled overnight.
The pizza gain was creamy from the cheeses, a bit of spice from the pepperoni and a hit of pepper.
Perhaps one day my granddaughter and I will spend a day in the kitchen making her great grandmother’s recipe. Buona Pasqua!
Connie Salvatoriello’s Easter Stuff Pie
2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
1 container of basket cheese
12 beaten eggs
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese, or to taste
1/2 pound piece of boiled ham, diced
1/2 pound piece of prosciutto, diced
1-1/2 sticks pepperoni diced
1 pound of mozzarella diced
4 cups flour
1/2 pound cold butter, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons of grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Crust (You can make the crust in a food processor)
Measure flour in a large bowl. Using pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until small pieces form. Add salt, pepper and eggs and mix until dough forms into a ball. (If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of ice cold water). Once dough is formed, take approximately 3/4 of dough and shape into a rectangle. Place between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out into a rectangle to fit into a large pan approximately 2” deep x 10” wide x 15” long. Fit dough into pan and trim edges so they’re uniform.
Using a large bowl, break eggs and beat with a whisk. Add ricotta cheese and mix with whisk. Break basket cheese into pieces and whisk into cheese mixture. Add in the meats, mozzarella a bit of salt (cheese and prosciutto are salty) and freshly ground pepper. Pour filling into crust. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips. Place strips both both vertically and horizontal on the top. Brush with egg wash. Bake in oven for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Put a knife in the center of the casserole, if it comes out clean, the pizza rustica is done.
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.