Pizza Rustica or Pizzagaina

It’s Good Friday, which means it’s Pizza Gaina (or Pizza Rustica) day. This is a traditional Italian Easter pie filled with rich meats and cheeses to solidly put your Lenten fasting to an end. It’s meant to be eaten Easter day, but making it on Friday gives for plenty of time for the flavors to meld together.

In the words of my best friend Jae Fusco, “Pizzagaina has been a yearly family labor of love my whole life. Some of my favorite memories were my grandmother making this and Easter bread every year. As we grew up, my best friends Katie, Krissie, and Anthony would always cash in on fresh pizzagaina in the fridge after going out on to the wee hours of the morning on Good Friday. Being able to share Anna Fusco’s handwritten recipe with my best friend and watch our families and different traditions continue to overlap is an appreciation that’s hard to put into words. Very grateful this holiday weekend for all of the memories, traditions, and ongoing love that our family continue to share.”

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 lb prosciutto sliced thick (I ended up using about 3/4 lb of prosciutto)
  • 1 stick of pepperoni
  • 1 small salami
  • 1 large mozzarella, diced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • 24 large eggs
  • 1 small piece of provolone (~1/4 lb)

For the pie crust

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg for egg wash
  • ~1 cup very cold water (adding gradually as needed)
Preparation

For the pie crust – Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add wet ingredients. Add half of the water slowly (adding more if needed after kneading the dough) and knead the dough until a ball forms and doesn’t stick to the side of the bowl. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half an hour.

For filling – Mix all ingredients in a large bowl to combine. Add to prepared pie shell. Place top shell on filling. Make slit on top of pie crust. 

To assemble, roll out the pie dough into two pieces approximately the size of your pan (I used a springform pan). Brush beaten egg over top before placing in oven. Be sure to add a baking sheet below the pie pan to catch any eggs that may drip out. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes then turn down to 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until done (a paring knife should come out clean). Allow pie to sit for a short while before placing in the refrigerator.  

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