What’s on your Easter table? Probably leg of lamb, whether you prefer bone-in or boneless, or maybe an impressive roast ham, but one star can’t carry the whole show. This recipe for Italian Easter pie comes from our own Head Cheesemonger, Emilia D’Albero, who got it in turn from her Italian grandmother, naturally. This pie goes by many different names—pizza rustica, pizza chiena, pizza piena, just to name a few—but Emilia and her nonna call this one pizza gaina. Picture a quiche, then make it deep-dish and pack it full of Italian meats, and you’ve got the basic blueprint for Italian Easter pie! This one uses only the best ingredients, like local eggs and flour, as well as house made Italian sausage, duck fat, and fresh mozzarella.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour, then cut in cold duck fat and butter, until the fat and butter forms pea-sized pieces in the flour. Add 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites (that's 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks, to be clear), as well as your salt and pepper. Set aside unused egg whites. Using your hands or your mixer's dough hook attachment, mix well; if your dough becomes too dry, add the reserved egg whites one at a time, until dough reaches desired consistency. Cut your dough round into unequal pieces—one third and two thirds—and wrap the smaller piece tightly in plastic wrap. Roll out the larger piece and fit it into the bottom and up the sides of a greased pan, either a deep 9” square or round pan, or a standard depth 9” by 13” dish. Leave a 1” rim.
1 lb fresh Ricotta
6 eggs (plus 1 for egg wash)
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
¾ cup cubed fresh Mozzarella
¼ lb cubed Salame Romagnolo
¼ lb cubed Gran Biscotto
¼ lb cubed Prosciutto di Parma
2 Sweet Italian sausages, uncased and cooked
Using a whisk, beat together the Ricotta, eggs, reserved egg whites, ground pepper, and cheeses; mix well. (Add salt if you like, but the meats will add all the salt you need for most people.) Fold in the meats with a spatula and mix thoroughly. Unwrap remaining dough and roll out to become the top crust. Pour filling into your prepared pan or dish, then cover with rolled out top crust. Seal the edges and flute, meaning to pinch the edges into a wavy or scalloped shape. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. While it bakes, beat together 1 egg and 1 tbsp water to prepare egg wash. Remove from heat just long enough to brush the top with egg wash. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before serving to maintain structure. Serve in small wedges as appetizers, or as larger squares on a dinner plate.