MAKES ONE LARGE PIE — SERVES 8
According to Ennio Occhiali, the owner of the beautiful Bar Centro Storico in the center of Ferrara, this elaborate, traditional two crusted macaroni pie known as pasticcio is considered to be one of that city's finest creations. There are two versions, a salata (savory) one with no sugar in the crust, and a dolce version that adds sugar but the filling remains the same for both pie types.
Pasticcio is filled with a short cut of pasta with lines called penne rigate, a rich pork and liver ragu, and wild mushrooms all held together by a creamy, nutmeg scented white sauce (salsa di besciamella.)
Pasticcio saw its height during the reign of the d'Este family and was served at their many elaborate parties to impress their influential guests. I prefer the dolce version and even though it sounds like a lot of work, the pastry and sauces can be made in stages ahead of time. To make the salata version, eliminate the sugar when making the dough.
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in hot water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup minced onions
1 recipe besciamella sauce
1 recipe pork ragu sauce
1 pound penne rigate, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Grating of nutmeg
2 3/4 cups King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest of one large lemon
1 stick unsalted cold butter cut into bits
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups hot milk
Fine sea salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat; do not let the butter brown. Whisk in the flour and cook it until a uniform paste is formed and no streaks of flour remain. Slowly whisk in the milk in a steady stream. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring slowly until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to assemble filling.
1 celery stalk with leaves, washed and quartered
1 large carrot, scraped and quartered
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, stemmed
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 pound chicken livers
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Grinding black pepper
In a bowl, or in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and zest. Pulse or use a fork or pastry blender to work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Whisk 3 of the egg yolks together in a bowl with the water. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and process in the food processor or mix with your hands until a soft ball of dough is formed. If the dough seems dry, add a little water. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide it in half and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Drain the porcini and dice them. Melt the butter in a medium size sauté pan, stir in the onions and cook just until the onions soften. Add the mushrooms and fresh peas and cook 1 or 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Return the saute pan to the stovetop.
Mince the celery, carrot, parsley, and onion together with a chef's knife. Melt the butter in the same saute pan used to cook the mushrooms. Stir in the celery mixture and cook over medium heat until it softens. Stir in the pork, livers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the pork and livers turn gray. Transfer the ragu to the bowl with the mushrooms. Stir in the besciamella sauce. Add the cooked penne rigate and toss the mixture well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 10 x 3-inch spring form pan.
On a lightly floured surface roll out each half of pastry dough into a 16-inch diameter. Fit one half of the dough in the pan, bringing it up the sides and letting the excess hang over the edge of the pan.
Spread the filling in the pan, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and cover with the second sheet of dough. Seal the edges. Use any pastry scraps to make decorations for the top.
Brush the top with the remaining egg yolk; cut a small x in the center of the top for venting, and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned. Cool for 30 minutes before releasing sides.
Cut into wedges to serve.
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