Pizza Chiena or Pizza Rustica, or Savory Italian Easter Pie
Pizza chiena or pizza rustica is a savory Neapolitan pie served at Easter time. My family is from the area surrounding Naples and they called it pizza chiena, pronounced like pizzagaina, or pizzagain, as they pronounce the hard ch sound as a hard g in Neapolitan dialect and the last vowel is often left off.
For the crust:
Some people use pizza dough for the crust. You can get it from a pizzeria or make it yourself. There are many different ways to make the crust. You can experiment and see what you like. Some people use lard, butter or oil instead of the shortening. Some people don’t use eggs. Some people use yeast. Some people add pepper or salt. The dish itself is pretty salty with the meats and cheeses, so I would opt for no extra salt.
5 cups flour, not sifted
3/4 cup shortening
Put your flour on your work surface. Dot with shortening and incorporate until it becomes crumbly.
Make a well and add eggs, incorporating them. Add enough warm water until you have a workable dough. Knead for about 5 minutes. Put a little olive oil in a bowl. Add the dough ball.
Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for about a half hour.
For the filling:
People use different ingredients in the filling. It usually always has ricotta, eggs, grated cheese and salami. From there, it varies. You can also use soppressata, capocollo, mortadella, Italian sausage or provolone. We only used soppressata, capocollo and salami. One of my grandmas used provolone. Also, some provolone can be sharp and you don’t want it to be too dominant a flavor. Some people lump all the ingredients in there, some people chunk it, some people dice it very small, some people layer it. It’s all your preference. My two grandmas did it differently. This is kind of a combination of both of theirs.
1 lb. ricotta (Use a good brand with no added gums or thickeners.)
1 lb. basket cheese (If you can’t get this where you are, you can just use another pound of ricotta. Or you can let one pound of ricotta sit in a colander or in cheesecloth the night before to drain out water.)
1 cup salami, diced
1 cup prosciutto, diced
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
black pepper to taste
egg yolk for egg wash
In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Just stir it all together. No mixer needed. I like it a little chunky.
Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan or a 13×9 rectangular pan or a large cake pan or pie dish (depends on how much filling you have).
Cut off 2/3 of dough. Roll it out into a circle and line springform pan.
Fill with filling.
Roll out remaining dough into a circle. Top pie with it. Brush with egg wash.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1/2 hour. Lower heat to 350 for 1 more hour. Let cool for a few hours. Refrigerate. We eat this at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.