I got big Easter reviews at home today from the patient!
This is the text that I got while in the office, after prepping for this afternoons dinner and making sure that Paul got his coffee and Easter Ham Pie.
“The House of Dino has done it again. Chef Frank and sous-chef de cuisine, Shadow, have brought an Italian tradition into the 21st century. Their Easter Ham Pie is moist, salty, and creamy. All your favorite breakfast foods… eggs, bacon, ham…rolled up into one beautiful pie. Served warm or cold, it simply melts in your mouth. The crispy flaky crust holds the magic together. Just like your Italian grandmother made…only better.Well done, boys!
Later today we planned a very last minute meal with just a few pals doing a potluck. But since we had a ham a few weeks ago, I decided to go super simple with some baked ricotta & herb shells, meatballs, grilled sausages, and peppers.
This years first batch of Italian “ham” pie aka “Pizza Gaina”is cooling. It’s a family favorite dish I have only been making for a few years, starting when my Mom stopped mailing me hers each year!
But with way to much happening here at home, it was to much to do the big batch for now. I am thinking this will work for now and get us through the holidays and then I can make a few more later this week.
See last years post on the recipe here (https://bitetheroad.com/easter-ham-pie-aka-pizza-gaina/
One of the things I have been trying to do is run through some of my Mom’s old recipes in her club’s cookbooks that I haven’t ever made before. This year on request from the house; I was asked to attempt the Ham Pie in case my mom’s didn’t come. 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. and yes I am sharing: for the full recipe see here
The shopping for this dish always proves to be expensive, but well worth it. Luckily many of the same meats and cheeses can be purchased at some of your better grocery stores if you don’t have a traditional Italian market. But plan ahead – and don’t skimp on the eggs. Its often cheaper to buy the flat of eggs than a dozen or 18 count.
I opted to do most of my shopping at a small italian place in the Mission district of San Francisco, as it is closer to me than trekking to North Beach. Lucca Ravioli Co has been around for almost century – and still holds a lot of that old world charm – just with a lot more younger faces. Lucca’s is a classic. Small and cramped with inventory that some people may never have seen in its “non ready to eat” form – it is home to a wide assortment of imports and local artisan version of italian classics. (Hint: the Panettone just came in!)
Yes – everyone who knows this dish has a version they favor. Mine, growing up was a crisp, hard peppery version that flakes but wasn’t sweet. So that was the one I was going for.
Several recipes mention you can easily make this in your mixer; but I found that I preferred the old school method of mixing it by hand in a wide, large bowl (if I had better counter space I would have done it directly on the counter). It doesn’t take long to mix actually, but does need time to chill from 30 min to overnight.
This batch yielded dough for 1 – 9″ spring form pan (with strips for latticework) and a back up batches for several smaller ones in foil pans cake pans (3) for comparison.
Step 2 – Cutting the meat and cheese
This takes time! Be prepared. I tend to like smaller cubes, but even I get tired after a while. Cube up all the meats and cheese, mix them in a sealable container. I recommend you do this the day before and just have it ready.
Hint: Ask the counter person if they will slice them in 1/4 to 1/2 in slices, it will actually make your cutting feel like less as you can make plank cuts then the cross cut to form the cubes.
Step 3 – And now the make;
Once the dough is chilled – it is really mostly about putting it all together in order and baking. I thing of it as making a “quiche on steroids”.
Cut Meats & Cheese ✅
Prepare your dry ingredients ✅
Make dough and chill dough ✅
Crack and whisk the eggs ✅
Add meat & cheese to layed out dough ✅
Cover with egg mixture ✅
Do some fancy stuff on top ✅
A little sprinkle of grated cheese ✅
Baked till solid and toothpick comes out clean ✅
Let sit in the pans till cool, then remove and finish cooling on a rack
Hint: Give it a little foil “condom” in case the springform pan leaks
And the bake
Depending on the stove you use; they will back for anywhere for 52 – 90 min. Some recipes use a start high, reduce heat to 325 degree method, while others use a standard 350 degrees temp.
When they are fully cooled – you can wrap them in plastic wrap and then in foil to freeze (they do that great), eat or leave in refrigerator and serve cold or room temp the next day. Mostly personal choice.
As luck would have it – my larger one was underbred and had a wet center – but you can slice them and toss them on a cookie sheet to back further – they won’t be as impressive but will taste the same.
Another fun fact- as a test I also made one in a loaf pan and it came out great. So don’t be afraid to play with the shapes of the pans.
Post Easter update:
The full recipe for that amount meat will probably make 8 to 9 pies using a standard 8″ or 9″ cake pan. This will vary based on amount of eggs and the thickness of crust.
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.
Yes.. Its a bundle of something …Because not only does my Mom’s Easter Bread dough recipe use “active live yeast” instead of dried (which was harder to find than you would think) , it also indicates that prior to the first rise overnight; you need to make the “sign of the cross” over it and then swaddle it in a blanket too…
Did I mention how much I hate the chemistry of baking. It’s true. I will cook over bake anytime. But I wanted to see how close I could make mine to hers.
And 8 hours later (or was it 9 months because it sur looks full term) a very “risen” dough is ready to handled for a second short raise before shaping and baking.
Unwrapping the baby after 8 hours.
And now for a short 3 hour rise
All done… Oven on
Now it’s time to shape & bake
A little egg wash
Maybe a little color..
and 30 minutes later
But my oven runs hot so the next batch goes in at 325 degrees
Otherwise the taste and texture is good. I can taste the citrus and sugar, it’s dense with out being heavy. Will be perfect for toasting or as use in a bread pudding if I get tired of eating as is.