Easter Ham Pie aka “Pizza gaina”

The traditional Easter ham pie is something of a must have in our house growing up and was left to me to chop for many years. It goes by several names aka “Pizza gaina” (or pizza ghan, puzza rustica, pizza china) and seems that the variations on the name is as abundant as the variations on the dough type; from crisp, flaky, savory pie to doughy pizza style.

Easter Ham Pie aka “Pizza gaina”

The traditional Easter ham pie is something of a must have in our house growing up and was left to me to chop for many years. It goes by several names aka “Pizza gaina” (or pizza ghan, puzza rustica, pizza china) and seems that the variations on the name is as abundant as the variations on the dough type; from crisp, flaky, savory pie to doughy pizza style.

For the Dough

  • 1/8 tsp Ground Pepper (or more to taste for dough)
  • 6 large Eggs (For Dough)
  • 3/4 cup Shortening (I use Crisco brand)
  • 4 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Grated cheese (Parmesan) (for dough)
  • 2 tbsp ice water (as needed)

For the Filling

  • 1/2 lb Pepperoni (Use the traditional sticks not the larger slicing one.)
  • 1/2 lb Prosciutto
  • 1/2 lb HOT Capicola or Hot Sopressata
  • 1/2 lb hard salami
  • 1/2 lb Genoa salami
  • 1/2 lb Procuittini (You can substitute this with any other pepper coated hame they have)
  • 1/2 lb Abbruzese
  • 6 – 12 Large Eggs ((see notes for quantities))
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Grated cheese (parmesan or pecorino romano) (to taste)
  • 2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 lb Basket Cheese
  • 1/2 lb Provolone (Other recipes use ricotta etc.)

Meat Prep (up to 2 days a head)

  1. Cut all the meats and cheese in small cube. 1/4 to a 1/2 inchMix and store for when ready to use

Making the Dough

  1. You can make the dough several ways.
    1. My usual method is in a large flat bowl (or on your counter if you have the room)-  sift together flour and salt.  Add ground pepper and grated cheese. This also works in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
    2. If you use a food processor – you may have to make smaller batches. I found it harder (but quicker) to use the processor.
  2. Add the shorting  and work in quickly. Use a pastry cuter if you have one.
  3. Crack and break up the eggs. Add the eggs to the flour mixture and mix, adding up to 2 tablespoons of iced water as needed to bring the dough together.
  4. Once it comes together. Dump it on the table and give s a knead and form into a ball.

    DO NOT OVER WORK.

  5. You have two options now:

    >> You can divide the dough in 4, shape into discs and wrap and chill for 30 min or overnight  or

    >> Divide the dough into 4 ball;  Roll out and fit into your pans, pressing up the sides. Cut off at any extra to save as decoration on the top.

    I used a quick dash of cooking spray under the dough for quick release.

    Both ways work fine.

For the filling (wet mix first)

  1. Crack and whisk the remaining eggs
  2. Add pepper, grated cheese

Assembling the Pie

  1. Roll out the dough, large enough to extend beyond your pan several inches as you will want the sides to hang over.
  2. Using either a 9in spring form pan (or an 8 inch one will do – but use less of everything) or simple foil cake pans
  3. Lay the dough in the pan and gently press into place and make sure all the corners and sides and flattened smooth.
  4. Sprinkle some grated cheese ( about a tablespoon)  on the dough at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place 2 cups (for foil pans) or 3 1/2 – 4 cups (for spring form pan) of meat and cheese mix in each prepared pan and spread it out. It should be no more than 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the sides.
  6. Pour the wet batter over the meat and cheese. Using the back of a wooden spoon gently mix in.

    By volume, the foil pans take about 6-7 eggs worth of the batter and the springform will take up to 12 – 13 eggs.

    Essentially you want to barely cover the meat mixture.

  7. Add any decorative topping you want with the left over dough (i.e. a cross hatch or cut out shapes)
  8. Brush with left over egg batter or butter
  9. Sprinkle with more grated cheese

Baking Times

  1. My mom prefers to use  350 degrees for 60 – 75 minutes or until the toothpick comes out dry for the foil pans (my oven was dead on at 60 minutes. (For the larger springform – plan for another 20 min).

    I also liked this version technique – preheat the over to 425 and bake for 9 minutes, then reduce heat for 1 hours (and and up to an additional 20 minutes for larger pans). 

  2. If you use a springform pan – be sure and give it a foil “condom” in case it leaks

  3. Let them cool on a rack, in the pan until, cool to the touch

    Then remove them and let finish cooling on the rack (remember they will still be hot inside)

  4. You can serve these warm, room temp or cold. They freeze great!

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