The Italian Easter Ham Pie aka Pizzagaina has now risen

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

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!)

Lucca Ravioli Co.  

1100 Valencia St. (Corner 22nd St.) call (415) 647-5581

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. 

Below are a few other recipes I found 

Clara Corrado’s Ham Pie (this is the one closet to my Mom’s version of the dough )

Pizza Gain Aka Pizzagaina, Pizza Rustica, Italian Easter Ham Pie

Easter Pie – A Family Feast

Another Easter Classic: Pizza Gaina

For the full recipe see here