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ITALIAN EASTER PIE (PIZZAGAINA

ITALIAN EASTER PIE (PIZZAGAINA

Ingredients

Filling:
½ lb mortadella, sliced and chopped
½ lb provolone, thinly sliced
½ lb capicola (hot ham), very thinly sliced
¼ lb prosciutto, very thinly sliced
2-3 slices each pepperoni or salami, chopped
1-2 slices sopressato, chopped (optional)
cups ricotta
1 entire basket Easter cheese (fromaggio fresca)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons romano cheese, freshly grated
¾ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, cracked

Directions

At your deli, have the cold cuts sliced thinly, with the proscuitto being shaved thinly enough to see through it. Remove the casing strings from the cold cuts, roll them up and slice them into 1/2 inch wide strips. For the pepperoni, sopressato, or salami, chop the strips into small squares. Chop half of the mortadella into squares as well, reserving half of it to layer in criss-cross strips to create a layer in the same way that you'll be using the proscuitto. Measure out a half cup of the ricotta. Add parmesan and romano cheese to this, then stir in the cracked whole peppercorns. Note: To crack peppercorns, measure out quantity of whole peppercorns into a plastic bag and then use a rolling pin to crush them as you would bread crumbs. Assembly: Add the filling to the crust, beginning by lining the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of proscuitto, torn into strips. Cover with a scant layer of very thinly sliced boiled eggs (the boiled egg here is optional - feel free to leave it out). Next, add a layer of ricotta, parmesan, romano, cracked pepper mixture. Place a layer of torn capicola to cover the layer. Next, place a thin layer of provolone cheese. Cover this layer with the remaining 1 cup ricotta which has been mixed with the chopped pepperoni, sopressato, mortadella and capicola. Place a layer of thin strips of mortadella, and next a layer of fromaggio fresca broken into chunks. Press down slightly if the filling is getting too high. Next, a layer of hot ham, then a final layer of proscuitto and fromaggio fresca. (An optional variation at this step is to place a single layer of baby spinach, blanched, and squeezed dry into the center ricotta layer.) In a cup, beat one egg with 1 tablespoon cold water. Use this as the egg glaze for brushing over crust just before baking. Brush the pie edges with egg glaze so that the top crust will make a better seal with the bottom crust. Roll out and drape top crust over pie; trim away excess using a kitchen scissors, leaving a 1/2 inch margin. Press together and crimp edges well, then flute in a decorative fashion. Insert 3 tin-foil funnels or pie birds through pie crust top in order to allow steam to escape. Let rise 15 minutes, brush crust with egg glaze before baking in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Check at 35 minutes; if browning too rapidly, place aluminum foil tent over top (be sure close oven door quickly or you'll drop the temperature!) Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices and allow individual slices to sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Calzones: If you have any leftover dough, roll it into small circles, fill with any remaining cold cuts or filling mixture that you have, toss on some shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese; fold into half circle, turnover-like shapes. Fold in and crimp edges, pressing to seal. Brush with glaze after allowing a 15 minute rise. Bake calzones at 375 F for 20 minutes, or until golden. This rich, Italian holiday favorite is served as part of traditional Easter fare, and sometimes at Christmas. Known in our family as "Pizzagaina",(Pizza jay-nah) this multi-layered dish is quite an undertaking to prepare, but the effort spent will be well worth your time. And you'll be able to prepare it a day or two in advance, leaving you free to relax and enjoy the holidays with your guests.

More recipes by Anthony C.

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