This recipe for Pizza Chiena, a delicious, meaty Italian pie served at Easter, comes from Italian American, a cookbook written by chefs Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli of Don Angie in New York City. Tacinelli’s stuffing includes a combination of sweet and spicy Italian sausage, ham steak, cooked eggs, mozzarella cheese, sharp provolone, another egg (raw this time), parsley, salt, and pepper. A handmade dough enriched with the meat’s cooking juices and fat encases the contents before baking, turning crisp and golden brown. The book explains 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 can change depending on where you go. Easter Pie always has these three ingredients: eggs, pork, and cheese. This recipe can be prepared over two days if desired. Prepare the filling the day before (by cooking the meat and grating the cheese) and the crust, assembly, and baking the day of.
- 11 large eggs
- 12 ounces sweet Italian sausage
- 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage
- 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
- Prepare cold water in a large dish and set it away. In a medium saucepan, cover six eggs with cold water by an inch. Place in a pot and bring to a boil over medium 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. Eggs should be peeled, halved lengthwise, and then sliced into pieces no more than a quarter of an inch in thickness. Put the broken eggs in a little basin. Retain in the fridge until ready to use; cover.
- While the eggs are baking, pierce the sausage casings with a paring knife to let the fat escape. Combine the ham, sausages, and paprika in a big saucepan with 10 cups of cold water. Cook the concoction until it reaches a boil. Simmer, uncovered, on medium-low heat until a thermometer put into the thickest part of the sausages reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which should take about 30 minutes. Take it off the heat. Take the ham and links out of the pot with tongs and leave them aside to cool for about 10 minutes. 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). (Throw out the rest of the liquid in the bank.) When the ham and sausages are cool enough to handle, remove excess fat and sinew and throw them away. Cube the meat roughly about 1/4 inch in size. You need around 4 cups of ham and 3 cups of sausage. Retain in the fridge until ready to use; cover.
- When the fat has separated from the cooking liquid, it’s time to take it out of the fridge. Remove as much fat as you can from the surface with a large spoon, and put it in a measuring cup. The amount of vegetable shortening added to the skimmed fat should equal 1/2 cup. Leave aside. Reserve any liquid that is still cold after cooking.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, baking powder, and one teaspoon salt on medium speed until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add the fat mixture set aside (approximately 1/2 cup) gradually while beating (about one tablespoon at a time). Mix on low for 1 to 2 minutes or until the reserved cooled cooking liquid is well absorbed and the dough is slightly shaggy and not sticky. Throw away any leftover cold cooking liquid.
- Put the dough on a dry, clean surface to work with. Incorporate ingredients by kneading with the palms of your hands for about a minute. The dough should be pliable but not sticky and quickly form a single ball. Let the dough rest for an hour at room temperature in a plastic bag. (For up to 2 days, the dough can be refrigerated if it is tightly wrapped in plastic. Hold off on using it until it has cooled to room temperature.
- Separate 4 of the eggs and place them in a big basin. Mix in the remaining one teaspoon of salt, the chopped ham and sausage, the cooked egg pieces, the mozzarella, the provolone, the parsley, the pepper, and the egg details. Leave aside.
- Turn the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and put the rack in the bottom third. Spray a springform pan 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep with cooking spray. Lay out a clean, dry surface and unwrap the dough. Cut the dough into three even pieces, each weighing about 6 1/2 ounces. Combine and roll two pieces of dough (approximately 13 ounces) into a 16-inch circle. Gently push the dough into the corners of the prepared springform pan, then carefully lower the dough round into the pan. The dough should extend past the pan edges by a quarter to a half inch. Evenly distribute the meat-egg mixture over the dough in the pan, pushing it in firmly but softly. In a separate bowl, beat the last remaining egg. Brush the egg wash along the overhanging portion of the bottom dough piece using a pastry brush. You should save the extra egg wash.
- Make a 12-inch circle out of the leftover dough (approximately 6 1/2 ounces). Cover the meat and egg mixture in the pan with the dough circle. To prevent the dough from unraveling, trim the edges with scissors or a sharp paring knife to leave a 1/2-inch overhang in all directions. The advantage pan should be rolled gently toward the center until it is sealed. It must resemble a rope and rest within the pan’s rims (not on top of the edge).
- Use the remaining egg wash to glaze the pie. Cut four holes in the pie’s top, each measuring one inch. Bake the pie for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 150 degrees Fahrenheit, on the bottom rack of a preheated oven. Move the pie to a cooling rack; set aside for 15 minutes. Get rid of the pan the pie was baking in. Cool for 2 hours on a wire rack. Cut into little squares. Cut the pastry into wedges and serve it warm, at room temperature, or cold. If there is any pie left over, you can wrap it tightly in plastic and keep it in the fridge for up to five days. A pie can be frozen for up to three months if it is first wrapped in plastic wrap, then placed in a zip lock plastic freezer bag, and then reheated in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot and crispy.