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Articles by: Michele Scicolone

  • Dining in & out

    Agnello al forno: A Traditional Easter Meal

    Agnello al forno

    Serves: 8

    Ingredients:

    2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    1 bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed (about 6 pounds), at room temperature

    6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

    Directions:

    Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the potatoes in a large roasting pan. Toss with the oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Make shallow slits all over the lamb with a small knife. Poke some of the garlic and rosemary into the slits, reserving a little for the potatoes. Sprinkle the meat generously with salt and pepper. Push the potatoes to the sides of the pan and add the meat fat-side up. Place the pan in the oven and cook 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes. Roast 30 to 45 minutes longer or until the meat feels slightly springy and the internal temperature measures 130°F on an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the lamb to a cutting board. Cover with foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes before slicing. Test the potatoes for doneness by piercing them with a sharp knife. If they need further cooking, turn the oven up to 400°F, return the pan to the oven, and cook until tender. Slice the lamb and serve with the potatoes.

    Adapted from 1,000 Italian Recipes, Wiley Publishing, Inc., by Michele Scicolone.  For more information about cooking, vist Michele’s website: www.MicheleScicolone.com 

  • Dining in & out

    Struffoli for Christmas. Just Can't be Missed From the Tables of Neapolitan Families

    When I was a little girl in Brooklyn, other kids would be helping their mothers to make gingerbread and spritz cookies, but in our house, it was always struffoli.  Mom would start with a 5-pound bag of flour and a couple of dozen eggs.  She would mix and knead the ingredients together until a smooth dough formed.  Then the dough was left to rest under a clean kitchen towel and she would fill a big pot with oil.  Then we would start slicing, rolling and cutting the dough until little bits. 

    Once the oil was hot enough, she would carefully slip the pieces of dough into the hot oil, making sure all the while that we kids stayed far away from the hot pot.  But I loved to watch as the struffoli turned from little pillow shaped pellets into crisp, brown puffs.  

    When she judged them sufficiently browned, she would scoop out the puffs and drain them on paper towels.  They were eggy and toasty tasting, but they really wouldn’t be at their best until they were thoroughly drenched in good honey.  

    My mom didn’t think much of the supermarket brands, preferring instead to drive to a private home on Staten Island where the owner kept bees and gathered several different types of honey.  My mom would ask for a blend of the light and dark honeys for a perfectly mellow flavor. 

    After tossing the struffoli with the warm honey came the fun part -- piling the sticky balls into heaps on platters and disposable pie plates to be given as gifts to friends and family. But before they could be given away, the struffoli needed to be decorated.  We used little multicolored confetti and by the time we kids were done with the task, there were sticky finger marks and confetti all over the kitchen table and floor.  Sometimes we added candied red and green cherries, or sliced almonds, or strips of candied orange and citron.  Of course, we couldn’t resist tasting them to make sure they were as good as last year’s.

    The big platter would go on the sideboard where we could pick off a few whenever we passed by throughout the holiday season.  The pie plates were wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons to bring to friends and family.  Of course, they would give us plates of their own struffoli, but in my house, we all knew that mom’s were superior.  They were crisp and light and never dense and hard like others we had tasted.

    A lot of Italian Americans have forgotten, or maybe they never knew, how to make struffoli, so I put them on the holiday entertaining menu I prepared at the cooking class I did at De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s on Thursday.  Sure enough, while I was getting ready for the class, I heard one of the assistants enter and exclaim, “Struffoli!  Hurray, we’re making struffoli!”  I felt just like a kid again, making struffoli with my mom.

    Here’s my recipe for struffoli which I published in my book 1,000 Italian Recipes.

    It makes a plateful, enough for 8 to 10.  If you want to make a big batch to give away, the recipe can easily be doubled. 

    ***

     

    STRUFFOLI
    Makes 8 servings

    1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for kneading the dough

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    2 large eggs, beaten

    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest

    Vegetable oil for frying

    1 cup honey (about 6 ounces

    Possible garnishes: multicolored sprinkles, chopped candied orange peel, citron or  cherries, toasted sliced almonds

    1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour and the salt. Add the eggs and lemon zest and stir until well blended.

    2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough with an overturned bowl. Let the dough rest 30 minutes.

    3. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Roll one slice between your palms into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch nuggets. If the dough feels sticky, use a tiny bit of flour to dust the board or your hands. (Excess flour will cause the oil to foam up when you fry the struffoli.)

    4. Line a tray with paper towels. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wide heavy saucepan. Heat the oil to 370°F on a frying thermometer, or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute.

    5. Being careful not to splash the oil, slip just enough struffoli into the pan to fit without crowding. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon, until the struffoli are crisp and evenly golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the struffoli with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    6. When all of the struffoli are fried, gently heat the honey just to a simmer in a large shallow saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the drained struffoli and toss well. Pile the struffoli onto a serving plate. Decorate with the multicolored sprinkles, candied fruits, or nuts.

    7. To serve, break off a portion of the struffoli with two large spoons or a salad server.   Store covered with an overturned bowl at room temperature up to 3 days.

    Copyright 2004 1,000 ITALIAN RECIPES by Michele Scicolone  www.MicheleScicolone.com

     

  • Dining in & out

    For An American Thanksgiving with an Italian Accent

     Soup, roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.  It all sounds like the typical American holiday meal, but I can't resist adding an Italian accent to the dishes I'll be making.

    My mushroom soup is accented with Marsala (the recipe is in my book 

    The Italian Slow Cooker

    ),and the turkey is roasted with herbs, garlic and white wine.  My turkey stuffing is one my grandmother taught my mother to make.  It's made with sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions mixed with rice.  The brussels sprouts will be roasted with garlic and pancetta while the potatoes are mashed with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.  And I know Charles has a fine bottle of Amarone lined up to go with the meal.

    Even the cranberry sauce will have an Italian accent this year.  I'm a big fan of mostarda, which takes various forms around Italy.  Sometimes it is made with whole fruits poached in a sweet mustard syrup, while other versions are more like a chunky condiment.  I combined tart cranberries, figs and two kinds of mustard to make a Cranberry Fig Mostarda.  Both tangy and sweet, it has a pleasant crunch from the fig and mustard seeds, and its a great companion to the holiday bird.  It's also good with a sharp cheese such as a mountain gorgonzola.      

    Wishing you all a very delicious and Happy Thanksgiving!  
                                      

    Cranberry Fig Mostarda

     

     

     

     

     

    Makes about 3-1/2 cups

     

     

     

    12 ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed

    7 ounces dried figs, stems removed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

    1-1/2 cups sugar

    1/4 cup orange juice

    2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

    1 tablespoon dry mustard mixed with 1 tablespoon water

     

     

     

    Combine cranberries, figs, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan.  Bring to simmer.  Cover and cook 10 minutes or until the cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. 

               

                Add the mustard seeds and mustard paste.  Stir in well.  Cook 5 minutes more.  Let cool.  Scrape into an airtight container.  Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before serving.  This keeps well for at least 2 weeks. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • A traditional dish from the Veneto region: risi e bisi
    Dining in & out

    What to Eat and Drink When You Are in Veneto

    The cuisine of the Veneto, more than any other region of Italy, reflects the influence of cultures around the world due to contact with them through Venice as a major port and center for trade.

    The marshy region along the Po River offers the perfect growing conditions for rice, especially the Vialone Nano variety used for risotto. Risotto variations are made with seafood, meat and vegetables and one not to miss is Risi e Bisi, rice cooked with green peas and chicken broth, then finished with cheese and butter. Some say that a proper risi e bisi should be made with an equal number of peas to every grain of rice. Unlike risotto made else where, risotto in the Veneto is cooked all’onda, meaning until it is wavy or soupy.

    A perfect wine to go with risi e bisi is Prosecco— a classic wine made from grapes grown to the north of Venice. Fresh and lively, prosecco comes in different styles; the most popular is spumante, (meaning bubbly), but there are also frizzante (lightly efferevescent) and tranquillo (still) varieties.

    Another highlight of Veneto cooking is Fegato alla Veneziana, calf’s liver with onions. Sliced onions are slowly cooked with white wine or vinegar until soft, tender and lightly browned. Then thin slices of liver are quickly sauteed until just browned and mixed with the onions. The typical accompaniment is polenta, either soft or grilled until crusty.

    Fegato alla veneziana goes perfectly with Valpolicella, a red wine made from grapes grown near Lake Garda. It is a fresh and fruity red wine with hints of red fruit such as cherry and raspberry.

    The fish and seafood from the Veneto Lagoon is renowned, especially Moleche, also called moeche, which are soft shell crabs. The crabs are available for just a few weeks in the spring and fall. Only about 2 inches in diameter, the soft shell crabs are coated in a light batter and fried in hot oil until crisp and golden.

    To drink with moleche, choose a Veneto white wine such as Soave. The wine comes from grapes grown in the eastern part of the Province of Verona. Soave wine has aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds.

  • Sicilian Lentil, Vegetable, and Pasta Soup
    Dining in & out

    Sicilian Lentil, Vegetable, and Pasta Soup

    Throughout the country, there are parties, dances and concerts galore. Many Italians wear red underwear under their party attire to ensure good luck in the new year. At midnight, fireworks sparkle in the night sky. Naturally there are traditional foods eaten to celebrate. Lentils, beans and grapes, because they resemble coins, symbolize prosperity and abundance. The lentils or beans are eaten on New Year’s Day with cotechino, a large sausage wrapped in a pig’s skin, or zampone, a similar sausage stuffed in a pig’s foot. You can find them at many Italian markets in this country.

    To start the New Year off, I always make Sicilian Lentil Soup from my book The Italian Slow Cooker. The slow cooker saves time and effort and the recipe is simply a matter of combining a few ingredients and leaving them to simmer until tender and flavorful while I enjoy the day with family and friends.

    In a large slow cooker, combine the lentils, vegetables, and water. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Add the pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high 30 minutes more or until the pasta is tender. Serve hot sprinkled with the cheese. Pota- toes, green beans, winter squash and many other vegetables can be added to this easy soup.

    SERVES 6 TO 8

    ■ 1 POUND BROWN LENTILS, RINSED AND PICKED OVER

    ■ 1 LARGE ONION, CHOPPED

    ■ 2 MEDIUM CARROTS, CHOPPED

    ■ 1 LARGE CELERY RIB, WITH LEAVES, CHOPPED

    ■ 2 LARGE TOMATOES, PEELED AND CHOPPED OR 1 CUP CANNED ITALIAN PEELED TOMATOES, CHOPPED

    ■ 2 MEDIUM ZUCCHINI, YELLOW SQUASH OR PATTYPAN, CHOPPED

    ■ 6 CUPS WATER

    ■ 1 CUP TUBETTI OR OTHER SMALL PASTA SHAPE

    ■ SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER TO TASTE

    ■ FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

    For more about cooking, go to www.MicheleScicolone.com

  • Dining in & out: Recipes

    Puffy Little Balls in Honey. Struffoli for Christmas

    Struffoli, puffy little balls of fried dough drenched in honey, are the quintessential Christmas sweet in Naples and other places in Italy, especially the Central and Southern regions. 

    When I was a little girl in Brooklyn, other kids would be helping their mothers to make gingerbread and spritz cookies, but in our house, it was always struffoli.  Mom would start with a 5-pound bag of flour and a couple of dozen eggs.  She would mix and knead the ingredients together until a smooth dough formed.  Then the dough was left to rest under a clean kitchen towel and she would fill a big pot with oil.  Then we would start slicing, rolling and cutting the dough until little bits. 

    Once the oil was hot enough, she would carefully slip the pieces of dough into the hot oil, making sure all the while that we kids stayed far away from the hot pot.  But I loved to watch as the struffoli turned from little pillow shaped pellets into crisp, brown puffs.  

    When she judged them sufficiently browned, she would scoop out the puffs and drain them on paper towels.  They were eggy and toasty tasting, but they really wouldn’t be at their best until they were thoroughly drenched in good honey.  

    My mom didn’t think much of the supermarket brands, preferring instead to drive to a private home on Staten Island where the owner kept bees and gathered several different types of honey.  My mom would ask for a blend of the light and dark honeys for a perfectly mellow flavor. 

    After tossing the struffoli with the warm honey came the fun part -- piling the sticky balls into heaps on platters and disposable pie plates to be given as gifts to friends and family. But before they could be given away, the struffoli needed to be decorated.  We used little multicolored confetti and by the time we kids were done with the task, there were sticky finger marks and confetti all over the kitchen table and floor.  Sometimes we added candied red and green cherries, or sliced almonds, or strips of candied orange and citron.  Of course, we couldn’t resist tasting them to make sure they were as good as last year’s.

    The big platter would go on the sideboard where we could pick off a few whenever we passed by throughout the holiday season.  The pie plates were wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons to bring to friends and family.  Of course, they would give us plates of their own struffoli, but in my house, we all knew that mom’s were superior.  They were crisp and light and never dense and hard like others we had tasted.

    A lot of Italian Americans have forgotten, or maybe they never knew, how to make struffoli, so I put them on the holiday entertaining menu I prepared at the cooking class I did at De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s on Thursday.  Sure enough, while I was getting ready for the class, I heard one of the assistants enter and exclaim, “Struffoli!  Hurray, we’re making struffoli!”  I felt just like a kid again, making struffoli with my mom.

    Here’s my recipe for struffoli which I published in my book 1,000 Italian Recipes.

    It makes a plateful, enough for 8 to 10.  If you want to make a big batch to give away, the recipe can easily be doubled. 

    ***

    www.MicheleScicolone.com

    STRUFFOLI
    Makes 8 servings

    1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for kneading the dough

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    2 large eggs, beaten

    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest

    Vegetable oil for frying

    1 cup honey (about 6 ounces

    Possible garnishes: multicolored sprinkles, chopped candied orange peel, citron or  cherries, toasted sliced almonds

    1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour and the salt. Add the eggs and lemon zest and stir until well blended.

    2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough with an overturned bowl. Let the dough rest 30 minutes.

    3. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Roll one slice between your palms into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch nuggets. If the dough feels sticky, use a tiny bit of flour to dust the board or your hands. (Excess flour will cause the oil to foam up when you fry the struffoli.)

    4. Line a tray with paper towels. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wide heavy saucepan. Heat the oil to 370°F on a frying thermometer, or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute.

    5. Being careful not to splash the oil, slip just enough struffoli into the pan to fit without crowding. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon, until the struffoli are crisp and evenly golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the struffoli with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    6. When all of the struffoli are fried, gently heat the honey just to a simmer in a large shallow saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the drained struffoli and toss well. Pile the struffoli onto a serving plate. Decorate with the multicolored sprinkles, candied fruits, or nuts.

    7. To serve, break off a portion of the struffoli with two large spoons or a salad server.   Store covered with an overturned bowl at room temperature up to 3 days.

    Copyright 2004 1,000 ITALIAN RECIPES by Michele Scicolone

    If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, or others, I would love to hear from you at 
    mailto:[email protected]

  • Dining in & out

    Remembering Amatrice... Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

    Spaghetti all’Amatriciana is an ancient dish created by shepherds from a handful of simple ingredients. Modern versions are made with guanciale, cured pork cheek, wine, olive oil or lard, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. Variations abound, and controversy over what is authentic continues.

    The important thing to remember is that many were lost and help is needed for the survivors to rebuild their lives. Charities seeking donations for that purpose can be found on line. At home, why not host a dinner party and invite friends to share a plate of spaghetti and donate to the cause.

    Pour the oil into a skillet large enough to hold all of the cooked pasta. Add the guanciale and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until the guanciale is lightly browned.

    Add the wine and cook, scraping the pan, until most of the wine evaporates. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until almost done. Drain the pasta reserving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce. Cook and toss the pasta over high heat until al dente. Add a little of the cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Remove from the heat, add the cheese and serve. 

    SERVES 6 TO 8

    ■ 2 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL

    ■ 4 OUNCES GUANCIALE (OR PANCETTA), CUT INTO 3/4 BY 1/4-INCH STRIPS

    ■ PINCH OF CRUSHED RED PEPPER

    ■ 1⁄2 CUP DRY WHITE WINE

    ■ 1 (28 OUNCE) CAN SAN MARZANO TOMATOES

    ■ SALT

    ■ 1 POUND BUCATINI OR SPAGHETTI

    ■ 1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

    For more about cooking, go to www.MicheleScicolone.com 

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    From Puglia ‘Bombette’ for Summer Grilling



                                       

    The most typical filling for bombette is sliced pancetta and caciocavallo, but there are many variations. Butcher shops sell prepared bombette stuffed with diverse fillings such as sausage meat, salame, grilled eggplant, pesto, dried figs, spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers and all kinds of cheese, ready to take home and cook.


    Some cooks roll the bombette in breadcrumbs for a crusty coating before grilling, and others prefer to bake the bombette in the oven. Use your imagination and the ingredients you have on hand. Serve bombette at your next barbecue with a crisp arugula salad and a Primitivo wine from Puglia.                                                

    Lay the pork slices on a flat surface. Gently pound each piece to an even thinness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss together the parsley and gar- lic and sprinkle the mixture over the meat.      

    Place a piece of pancetta on each slice and a piece of cheese on top. Roll up the pork slices, tucking in the ends to form neat rolls. Thread the rolls on skewers. Brush the rolls lightly with olive oil. Place a barbecue grill or broiler rack about 5 inches from the heat source. Preheat the grill or broiler.                       

    Grill or broil until the meat is lightly browned and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve hot.




     

    Serve 4              

    1-1/4 poundS pork TenderLoin, cut inTo 16 Thin SLices

    SaLT and freshly ground pepper

    4 ounces caciocavallo, provolone or mild pecorino cheese, cut inTo 16 Sticks

    8 Thin SLiceS pancetta or prosciutto, cut in half crosswise

    2 Table Spoons chopped fresh parsley

    1 garlic clove, minced

    olive oiL

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    LA RICETTA. From Abruzzo Lamb Ragu with Pasta alla Chitarra

    Lamb is a key ingredient in Abruzzo’s signature ragu, simmered with wine, sweet bell peppers and the region’s beloved peperoncino, red chile peppers. The thick ragu is typically served with pasta alla chitarra, homemade spaghetti made on a guitar like wooden instrument that cuts the pasta sheets into perfect square shaped strands.
     

    Made with semolina, the thick strands remain chewy and are a perfect companion to the flavorful sauce. A generous sprinkle of Pecorino Romano completes the dish.

    In a large skillet, cook the oil, onion, bell pepper, and pepe- roncino until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the lamb and cook, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, until it is no longer pink about 15 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes. Add the bay leaf, and salt.

    Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook stirring frequently until the pasta is tender. Meanwhile, remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Spoon a thin layer into a large heated serving bowl. Drain the pasta and place it in the bowl. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese and toss well. Serve hot. 

    Serves 6 to 8:

    - 2 tablespoons olive oil n 1 medium onion, finely chopped;
    - 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped;
    - 1 small dried peperoncino, to taste;
    - 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped n 1 pound lean ground lamb;
    - 1⁄2 cup drY red wine n 1 (28- to 35-ounce) can italian tomatoes with their juice, chopped;
    - 1 bay leaf n salt to taste;
    - 1 pound pasta alla chitarra or thick spaghetti n 1⁄2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano. 

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    La Ricetta di Michele. Pizza Rustica for Easter


    When I was growing up, Lent was a time of sacrifice and deprivation.  There were no treats of any kind in the house, and we all “gave up” our favorite foods for the duration.  Of course, it didn’t count if you gave up spinach or broccoli; it had to be something good to eat and preferably not too good for you -- like chocolate, or ice cream.   For a child, 40 days seemed like forever.  


      When Holy Week finally arrived we were full of anticipation for the joy of Easter and the good eating the day would bring.  We would go shopping for new spring coats and straw hats and pastel colored dresses.    All through the week, my sister and I would color eggs and make baskets, while my mom would concentrate on the baking.  On Easter Sunday, the whole family would go to church dressed in new clothes.  It was a joyful day.  The dark winter was over and the smell of fresh flowers was everywhere.



    At home, the  family would get together for Easter dinner.  To start, there was Pizza Rustica, hard cooked eggs, and an unusual appetizer of sauteed calf's liver with vinegar and mint.  Next we would have my mom's her feather-light manicotti, then there was roast lamb, artichokes and asparagus.  

     The star of the dessert table was my mother’s Pastiera, the Neapolitan wheat and ricotta pie that is also known as Pizza Gran.  It is the recipe she learned from my grandmother, Antonietta Scotto de Fasano who came from Procida.  She taught me how to make it and I have taught my neice how to prepare it, too.  If you would like my family’s recipe for la Pastiera, please go to my website at www.MicheleScicolone.com.

     

     Here is my grandmother's recipe for  Pizza Rustica, sometimes called Pizza Chiene (dialect for pizza ripiena or stuffed pie).  There are many variations of this pie throughout Southern Italy, some of which are made with a yeast dough, while others have sweetened pie crust.  Some cooks add hard-cooked eggs, and every family has their own favorite combination of cheeses and cured meats.  The version below, which was published in my book 1,000 Italian Recipes, is the way my grandmother made Easter pie. 

     

    It is a very rich pie so a small slice goes a long way.   In Italy, Pizza Rustica is enjoyed for Pasquetta, the picnic on Easter Monday when everyone heads to the countryside to enjoy the fine spring weather. 

     

      Buona Pasqua a tutti! 

     



    PIZZA RUSTICA 

    (PIZZA CHIENE)



    Makes 12 servings

    Crust

    4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

    2 large eggs, beaten

    3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

    Filling

    8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

    3 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

    2 pounds whole or part-skim ricotta, drained overnight

    8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small dice

    4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small dice

    4 ounces cooked ham, cut into small dice

    4 ounces sopressata, cut into small dice

    Glaze

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    1. Prepare the crust: Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Add the eggs and stir until a soft dough forms. Scoop up some of the mixture with your hand and rapidly squeeze it until it holds together. Repeat with the rest of the dough until the ingredients hold together and can be formed into a smooth ball. If the mixture seems too dry and crumbly, add a little ice water. Gather the dough into two disks, one three times as large as the other. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour up to overnight.

    2. To make the filling, cook the sausage meat in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon. Chop the meat on a board.

    3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and Parmigiano until well blended. Stir in the ricotta, sausage meat, mozzarella, and diced meats.

    4. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the large piece of dough to form a 14-inch circle. Drape the dough over the rolling pin. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan, pressing it smoothly against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Scrape the filling into the pan.

    5. Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a 9-inch circle. With a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips. Place half the strips 1 inch apart over the filling. Turn the pan a quarter of the way around and place the remaining strips on top, forming a lattice pattern. Pinch the edges of the top and bottom layers of dough together to seal. Brush the dough with the egg glaze.

    6. Bake the pie 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until the crust is golden and the filling is puffed. Cool the pie in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

     

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