Friday, April 6, 2012

Italian Easter Meat Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Being eastern european, Easter was always a MAJOR holiday when I was growing up.  My mother would always buy us fancy new outfits and we even went to church!  After church we would come home for an Easter egg hunt in the snow (I grew up north of the 45th parallel) followed by a sumptuous feast of ham and deviled eggs and pineapple and asparagus and kolacki stuffed with sweet gooey black poppy seed filling.

These days my parents are gone, but I still like to celebrate Easter in a big way.  Since I now live in North Carolina, Easter is beautiful with flowers and azaleas and warm weather.  Doug and I throw our annual Boozy Easter party on the Saturday before Easter featuring a buffet of traditional Easter foods (which we affectionately call cruci-fixin's), invite all of our friends over for some food fun and frivolity followed by the infamous mini bottle hunt!

I first made this dish about four or five years ago when I was teaching myself to make artisanal bread and I came across it on the King Arthur flour web was a major hit!  It is rich and packed with cheese and cured Italian meats, almost like a calzone, but much more satisfying.  The crust is a simple pizza dough.  I usually make my own, but Trader Joe's makes an excellent pizza dough that works perfectly well and cuts hours off the preparation time.  The pie should be prepared well ahead of time and served at room temperature or just slightly warm.

Traditionally, in Italy this dish is called Pizza Rustica and it is prepared on Good Friday and not consumed until Easter Sunday.  Because it is so indulgent, it certainly brings an end to the austerity of Lent.  I don't really observe lent ( I always say I am giving up lent for lent), but I do love the idea of celebrating springtime with something unabashedly hedonistic, and this fits the bill every year.

Happy Easter!

Easter Meat Pie
serves 8-10

Bread Crust (or purchase pre-made pizza dough)
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water and sugar and stir to dissolve.  Sprinkle yeast over top and allow yeast to "proof" for 15 minutes (it should begin to become foamy, if not your yeast has expired).

Add olive oil and salt to yeast mixture. Add 1 cup of the flour to the yeast mixture and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes.   Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time mixing after each addition until a soft ball dough that cleans the sides of the bowl is formed.  Alternatively, hand knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic.

Turn dough into a clean bowl that has been well oiled with olive oil.  Allow dough to rise until doubled in size (about 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen).

While dough is rising prepare filling.

1 lb ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 lb shredded mozarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. aged fontina, cubed
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 lb ham, cubed
1/4 lb Genoa salami, cubed
1/4 lb pepperoni, cubed
1/4 lb prosciutto

In a large bowl combine eggs and cheeses, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix well.  Stir in ham, salami and pepperoni.  Reserve prosciutto to line pie crust.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie pan.

Deflate the dough and divide into two pieces.  Turn each piece of dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface, and using a rolling pin roll both to 16-inch diameter circles.  Place one of the dough circles into the prepared pie pan.

Line the crust in the pan with overlapping slices of prosciutto.

 Place the filling in the prosciutto-lined pie shell.

Cover with the remaining dough circle and roll edges under around the perimeter of the pie to seal the pie.  Cut several steam vents in the top crust.

Bake pie at 325 F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Pie should be golden brown when finished.

Remove pie from oven and cool for at least 1-2 hours before removing from pie pan.  For easy serving, invert the pie onto a cutting board and slice through the bottom.  Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. This was SPECTACULARLY delicious! I'm always excited when I get to have a meal at Mama Ozzy's!

  2. Do not wait until next Easter to make this - it is wicked delicious.