Every year the phone calls start about a month or so before Easter. “Do you make the Easter meat pie?” Many aliases follow, “pizza gain” , “pizza gaina”, “pizza rustica”. Seeing that we are in the business of sweets, no we do not sell the meat pie. Of course we ( meaning the family) make the meat pie. The meat pie or “pizza piena” ( “full pie”) , as we call it, is made to celebrate Easter, spring and all the abundance we can enjoy after depriving and fasting during Lent. Of course, all meat pies are not created equal. The recipes and combinations of meat and cheeses will vary according to the region of Italy , usually based on locally sourced ingredients. We judge the pie based on the amount of meat. After all it should be “full” with minimal egg and cheese used as a binder. The crust is a crispy savory treat . The end pieces of the pie are always my favorite.
Growing up I wasn’t really that big a fan of the pie. When I was legally able to enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio along with it, then I understood it’s true deliciousness.
My Mom always made the pie on Good Friday, but of course it could not be eaten until Saturday. ( remember, no meat on Fridays). My Dad ate it for dinner on Saturday night and I honor him and carry on this tradition.
If you choose to make this pie, here is our family recipe and a few tips. Just save me an end piece.
– Ask the deli server to cut the meat thick. Setting at the local grocery store, # 6. This will make the cutting the meat easier.
– When chopping the meat, smaller is better.
– You can chop the meat the night before you bake the pie. Just refrigerate and use when needed.
– The pie does get better with age. You can bake it, refrigerate,1 week ahead, then serve.
– Use a springform pan for easiest removal.
– Place a foil lined cookie sheet underneath the pie while baking in case of any leaks or overspills.
– Don’t be impatient. This pie takes awhile to cook.
– Do serve it at your Easter brunch or as an appetizer at Easter dinner.
– Honor your own traditions, too!
Pizza Piena “Full Pie”
Easter Meat Pie
¾ lb. ham ( diced small)
¾ lb. prosciutto ( diced small)
¼ lb. salami ( diced small)
1 ½ cups ricotta
½ cup grated pecorino Romano
½ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup shortening, melted, then cooled
Salt and pepper
1 ½- 2 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Make crust. Beat eggs and cooled shortening. Add salt and pepper and 1 ½ cups flour. Knead to make a soft, not sticky dough. If dough is sticky, add additional flour. Cover and set aside.
- Make filling. Beat eggs, ricotta, pecorino Romano. Add chopped meat, parsley and black pepper.
- Reserve ¼ of the crust dough. Roll out ¾ of the crust dough like a pie crust. Place into 9-inch springform pan. Pour in filling.
- Roll out remaining crust. Cut into strips. Layer strips over filling in lattice pattern. Crimp edges of crust all around.
- Bake 1 hour and 15-20 minutes, or until center is set. Cool pie in pan 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Refrigerate and cut into pieces.