The filling combines sweet and spicy Italian sausage, ham steak, cooked eggs, mozzarella cheese, and sharp provolone, bound together with more egg (raw this time), parsley, salt, and pepper, according to Tacinelli’s grandmother’s recipe. A handmade dough flavoured with the meat’s cooking liquid and fat is wrapped around the filling before baking to add texture and flavour. It is noted in the book that Pizza Chiena recipes can vary from home to home (for example, by using a different combination of meats like prosciutto, salami, and sausage) and that the dish’s name might vary as well (you might also see it named Pizza Rustica, or Pizza Gain). Easter Pie always has these three ingredients: eggs, pork, and cheese. This recipe can be prepared over two days if desired. It’s best to get the more challenging parts done the day before, like boiling the meat and grating the cheese, and then focus on the crust, assembly, and baking on the day of.
- 11 large eggs
- 12 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 3 sausage links)
- 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage (about 3 sausage links)
- 10 cups cold water, plus more for eggs and as needed
- 1 ½ pounds ham steak
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (preferably Hungarian)
- ½ cup vegetable shortening or lard, or as needed
- 2 cups (about 12 3/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 10 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 7 ounces sharp provolone cheese, grated on large holes of box grater (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking spray
- Get a big basin and fill it with ice water. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by an inch and place six in a medium pot. Simmer until it reaches a boil over medium-high heat. Take off the heat immediately, then cover and let stand for 12 minutes. Put the eggs in the ice water immediately, and let them chill for about 10 minutes. Prepare eggs by peeling them, slicing them in half lengthwise, and cutting each half into fourths. Eggs should be broken up and placed in a small bowl. Put in the fridge and cover until needed.
- While the eggs are cooking, pierce the casings of the sausages with a paring knife so the fat may escape while cooking. Put the ham, links, and paprika into a big pot with 10 cups of cold water. Bring mixture to a boil over medium. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the sausages reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Take it off the heat. Take the ham and links out of the pot using tongs and let them cool for about 10 minutes before handling. Put a medium metal bowl in the fridge for approximately an hour, then spoon in 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pot (together with any fat that has risen to the top). (Discard the remaining cooking liquid in pot.) When the ham and sausages are cool enough to handle, remove the casings and trim away any excess fat or sinew. The meat should be cubed approximately to a size of 1/4 inch. (You need roughly 4 cups of ham and 3 cups of sausage.) Put in the fridge and cover until needed.
- After the fat has separated from the cooking liquid, you can get rid of the fridge. Collect as much of the fat that rises to the top using a large spoon and a measuring cup. Add as much vegetable shortening to skimmed fat as needed to measure 1/2 cup total. Put away from the rest of the group. Leave the remaining cold cooking liquid where it is.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the flour, baking powder, and one teaspoon of salt on medium speed until just mixed, about 20 seconds. Combine the lard and sugar in a bowl and set aside 1/2 cup (about one tablespoon at a time). After 1–2 minutes of beating on low speed, add 1/2 cup of the cold cooking liquid you set aside earlier; beat until well integrated and the dough is a little shaggy but not sticky. Get rid of the residual complex cooking liquid.
- Put the dough on a dry, clean surface to work with. Knead using the palms of your hands until well integrated, about 1 minute. The dough should be pliable but not sticky and quickly form into a ball. Allow the dough ball to rest in plastic wrap for 1 hour at room temperature. Storage time in the fridge is up to 2 days if the dough is tightly wrapped in plastic. Allow reaching room temperature before using.
- Whisk together 4 of the eggs in a large bowl. Add chopped ham and sausage, cooked egg pieces, mozzarella, provolone, parsley, pepper, and one teaspoon salt to eggs; mix to incorporate. Put away from the rest of the group.
- Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in lowest position. Spray a springform pan 10 inches in diameter and two inches deep. Spread out the dough on a clean, dry surface. Divide dough evenly into 3 (approximately 6 1/2 ounces each) pieces. Combine two dough discs (about 13 ounces) and roll them out into a 16-inch circle. Press dough into pan corners and gently ease dough round into prepared springform pan. The dough should extend over the edges of the pan by a quarter to a half inch. Apply the meat and egg mixture equally over the dough in the pan, and pack it firmly but gently. Combine the remaining egg with the whiskings in a separate basin. Brush the egg wash along the overhanging edges of the bottom dough piece with a pastry brush. You should save the extra egg wash.
- The leftover dough (approximately 6 1/2 ounces) should be rolled into a 12-inch circle. Put the round dough, about 12 inches in diameter, on top of the meat-and-egg mixture in the baking dish. With sharp kitchen shears or scissors, trim the dough so that there is a 1/2-inch overhang on all sides. Carefully roll the bottom dough over the top to seal the edge and work your way toward the centre of the pan. The rope-like object needs to rest inside the pan’s rim (not on top of the rim).
- Apply the last of the egg wash to the pie crust. Cut four 1-inch slits in the pie top. Bake the pie for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a thermometer put into the centre reads 150 degrees Fahrenheit, after placing it on a large rimmed baking sheet in a preheated oven. Put the pie on a cooling rack and give it 15 minutes to cool. Take the pastry out of range. Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Cut into small pieces. Cut the pie into wedges and serve it warm, at room temperature, or cold. Refrigerating leftover pie for up to five days is possible if it is first tightly wrapped in plastic. Also, pies may be frozen for up to three months if they are first wrapped in plastic and then placed in a ziplock freezer bag; defrost in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes to get the crust nice and crisp again.