You may wish to warn guests unaccustomed to pizza rustica to start with just a small wedge: It is rich beyond belief.
Traditionally pizza rustica is served as a first course at noon on Easter Saturday, to break the Lenten fast, or on Easter Sunday. In some parts of Italy, it's also typically served for a picnic on Easter Monday. Nowadays, however, in Italy you can find it at any time of the year in snack bars and in rosticceria, takeout food shops.
In dicing the ham, be sure to cut it into cubes not much larger than a kernel of corn -- you don't want the filling to be ridden with large, clumsy chunks. If you use fresh mozzarella, cut that into small dice as well. If, on the other hand, you opt for the drier, American-style packaged mozzarella, you can shred it on the large holes of a cheese grater, likewise the provolone. The Parmesan and pecorino, however, should be finely grated, rather than shredded.
You likely won't need to add salt (since the meats are plenty salty) or pepper (there are peppercorns in the mortadella). You will definitely not need to add salt if you use feta rather than the unsalted basket cheese.
- 1 recipe Pasta Frolla con Limone, chilled (see related recipe)
- 1 pound fresh, unsalted cheese, such as "basket cheese" (1/2 basket) or 1 pound Greek feta cheese (see NOTE)
- 1 large ball fresh mozzarella cheese or 8-ounce package American-style mozzarella, diced or shredded
- 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp (or aged) provolone, such as Auricchio
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) freshly grated imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese
- 4 ounces mortadella in 1 thick slice, cut into small dice (about 2/3 cup)
- 4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small dice (about 2/3 cup)
- 4 ounces soppressata, cut into small dice (about 2/3 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
- Butter , for the pan
- Flour, for the work surface
- 1 large yolk, lightly beaten, for glazing the dough
Prepare the Pasta Frolla con Limone (see related recipe).
Using a wooden spoon, a fork or your fingers, crumble the basket cheese or feta into a large bowl. Add the mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino-Romano cheeses and, using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula, mix well. Add the mortadella, prosciutto and soppressata and mix well. Taste and, if desired, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. The filling should be dense and thick enough to stand a spatula or wooden spoon in, but it should not be so thick that you can't incorporate the ingredients. Add the half-and-half or milk. Set the filling aside while you roll out the dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch pan or a 9-inch round springform pan with sides at least 2 1/2 inches deep.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut the dough in half and immediately rewrap the half you are not using. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 portion of the dough into a rectangle or circle, depending on the shape of your pan, large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan with some overhang. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Place your rolling pin on the edge of the dough closest to you and gently wrap the dough around the rolling pin. Lift the dough over the pan then carefully unroll it. Gently press the dough into the pan. There will be some overhang. Prick with the tines of a fork. Turn the filling into the pan, using the back of a wooden spoon or your fingers to spread it evenly.
Roll out the remaining dough and drape it over the top. Gently press it directly against the surface of the filling. Trim the top and bottom crusts that hang beyond the pan so that only 1 inch of overhang remains, then press them together and fold them in toward the center of the dough to form an edge. Press down on the rolled edge with the tines of a fork to seal and form a decorative crust. If desired, use leftover dough to cut out shapes (chicks or eggs, for example) and arrange them on top of the pie. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top crust surface with the egg yolk.
Bake, for about an hour, until the top is golden. Remove and look to see if the sides of the crust are golden. If not, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and return the pizza to the oven for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. If using a rectangular pan, do not attempt to unmold. If using a springform pan, remove the sides and carefully transfer the pie to a large plate or platter.
Serve warm, at room temperature or cooled and chilled.
NOTE: Basket cheese is usually sold in 2-pound molds. It can be hard to find, but is sometimes available during spring at Italian markets and can be special-ordered from many cheese counters. If you can't find it, use feta instead.
From Alexandria cookbook author Domenica Marchetti.
Tested by Domenica Marchetti.
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