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Macaroni and Chicken in a Pastry Crust

Pasticcio di Maccheroni

SERVES 8 TO 10

Whenever I make pasticcio di maccheroni, an Italian version of chicken pot pie, I think of Giuseppe Lampedusa's novel The Leopard, about the decline of the aristocracy in nineteenth-century Sicily. In his elegantly written book, Lampedusa describes lavish multicourse dinners at which "three lackeys in green, gold, and powder entered, each holding a great silver dish containing a towering macaroni pie".

Pasticcio di maccheroni is easy to assemble if you make the slightly sweet dough a day ahead and have some cooked or leftover chicken on hand. Or the entire pie can be assembled in one day, covered with a sheet of buttered parchment paper, and baked the next day. Either way, this savory, deep-dish pie will be the centerpiece of your buffet table.

Ingredients

DOUGH

2 3/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces and softened

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup water

FILLING

1 pound penne rigate

1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed

2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/4 pounds cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup chicken broth

Fine sea salt to taste

1 egg, slightly beaten

Directions

In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and zest. Using a fork or pastry blender, work in the butter unit the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and water. Add the yolks to the flour mixture and mix with your hands until a soft 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 piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the penne and cook until just al dente; the pasta should remain slightly undercooked. Add the peas to the boiling water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add the cheese and butter and toss well. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the chicken and chicken broth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter a 10 by 3-inch springform pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a 16-inch round. Fit the dough into the pan, letting the excess hang over the sides.

Place one third of the pasta mixture in the pastry shell and sprinkle with salt. Spread half of the chicken and broth mixture over the pasta. Repeat with another layer of pasta and another layer of chicken. Spread the remaining pasta over the chicken and sprinkle with salt.

On a floured surface, roll out the remaining dough to a 12-inch round. Place the dough over the filling. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang and pinch the edges together to seal. If you wish, reroll the scraps and cut out shapes to make a decorative design on top of the pie. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes for easier cutting. Release the spring on the side of the pan and transfer the pasticcio to a serving plate. With a sharp knife, cut into wedges and serve.

This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, in 1995.

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