Ciao Italia Family Classics
Mary Ann returns to her family's humble beginnings to bring us a treasure trove of more than 200 time-honored recipes.
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Serves 10 - 12
Every Good Friday afternoon I could look forward to two things: spending a good part of the day in church, and watching my grandmother and mother make an enormous pie for Easter, called pizza chena. I never knew what that meant in Italian until many years later, when studying the language, I realized that pizza chena was dialect for pizza piena, which meant "a very full pie." And it was - chock-full of meats, cheeses, and a dozen eggs! While I have reduced the number of eggs, this still remains a substantial and memorable pie. It looks impressive when made in a round or rectangular pan at least 2 1/2 inches deep.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm (110º to 115ºF) water
5 1/2 to 6 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 1/2 teaspoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese (fior di latte), thinly sliced
1/2 pound ham, thinly sliced
1/2 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 pound Genoa salami, thinly sliced
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 pound capocollo, thinly sliced
6 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup minced flat-leafed parsley
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water; for egg wash
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1 cup of the warm water, stir well, and let proof for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups water and stir well.
In another bowl, mix 5 cups of the flour with the salt. Add to the yeast mixture along with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Mix with your hands, adding additional flour if necessary, until a soft and no longer sticky dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Brush the bottom and sides of a 15 by 13-inch rectangular baking dish or a 10 by 3-inch springform pan with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil.
Punch down the dough and knead it on a floured surface for 3 or 4 minutes. Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece of the dough to a rectangle or round at least 2 inches larger than the pan. Fit the dough in the pan, stretching it up the sides so that it overhangs the rim.
Fill the pan with alternating layers of the sliced cheeses and meats (you should have 9 or 10 layers).
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper. Pour the mixture evenly over the cheese and meat.
Break a lemon-size piece of dough off the remaining piece of dough and set aside. On a floured surface, roll the second piece of dough out to a rectangle or round at least 1 inch larger than the pan. Place the dough over the filling and seal the edges by pinching them closed and rolling the seam underneath itself. Divide the reserved piece of dough in half and roll each piece into a rope. Lay one piece across the center of the pie, and lay the second piece across it to form a cross.
Brush the top of the pie evenly with the egg wash. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
If using a spring form pan, release the spring, transfer the pie to a serving plate, and cut into wedges. If using a rectangular pan, cut the pie into pieces in the pan, then transfer them to a serving dish.
Note: This pie will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. It is best served at room temperature or just slightly warm.
This recipe is from Nella Cucina by Mary Ann Esposito.
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