Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Rustic Pie

I came across this recipe for pizza rustica last Easter, as it is traditionally an Italian Easter pie. But I didn’t serve it at Easter, and I didn’t even call it pizza, because it’s nothing like what we know as pizza, and my kids would be entirely deflated if they heard the P-word and were served something else! (For etymology buffs, “pizza” just means pie in Italian, but in North America it’s definitely a very specific type of dish!) This rustic pie is more akin to a super-thick double-crusted quiche. 

It came out of the oven looking fabulous, but unfortunately, it wasn’t cooked all the way through! I’m not sure how to check for that, short of poking through the top with a thermometer? Would it be worth cooking the eggs to a soft scramble beforehand? It was still really good (I used pasteurized eggs, so I wasn’t really bothered by cross-contamination or anything) , and it was structurally better after a day in the fridge. You could make this vegetarian by using vegetables instead of meat – perhaps mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes would be a particularly good choice here. For the ricotta, I always make this recipe; to get the 16 ounces called for in this pie, you’ll need 8 cups (2 liters) of lactose-free whole milk. I didn’t have enough milk left, so I made 8 ounces of ricotta, used 4 ounces of lactose-free cream cheese that I had in the fridge, and was generous with the other cheeses in the recipe to compensate. 

For the crust 
4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tsp. kosher salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) lactose-free butter, cold and cut into cubes 
3 large eggs, beaten 
6 Tbsp. ice water (I needed 8 Tbsp.) 

For the filling 
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
3 cup baby spinach 
8 large eggs 
16 oz. lactose-free ricotta 
1 cup lactose-free shredded mozzarella 
½ cup freshly grated parmesan 
4 oz. salami, chopped 
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
egg wash, for brushing 

For the dough 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add butter and cut into flour with a pastry cutter or your hands until pea-size and some slightly larger pieces form. Add eggs and knead with your hands to combine, then add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Cut off ⅓ of the dough. Form both pieces of dough into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour. 

For the filling 
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Add garlic and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large bowl, combine eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salami, and cooled sausage mixture. Season with salt and pepper. 

Preheat oven to 375 °F and grease an 8" springform pan with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into a 16" circle. Transfer to prepared pan, guiding dough upward and letting excess hang over the sides. Roll smaller piece of dough into a 12" circle. Pour filling over bottom crust, then top with smaller crust. Trim overhang to 1" then pinch crusts together and crimp. 

Cut slits in pie crust for steam to escape. Brush top with egg wash and bake until golden, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then remove springform ring to serve.

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