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PIZZA CHIENA

Neapolitan Meat and Cheese Pie

Pizza chiena is Neapolitan dialect for what would be called pizza ripiena, or filled pizza, in Italian. The assortment of cured meats and cheeses here is a fairly standard one, though it varies town by town and even family by family, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your own combinations-it’s thoroughly Italian to do that. This recipe is based on information from two dear friends, Ann Amendolara Nurse and Anna Teresa Callen, who is the author of numerous books on Italian cooking. Please note that there is no salt in the filling-the meats and cheeses, especially the Pecorino Romano, are salty enough.

1 9 x 13 x 2-inch pie, about 24 2-inch square servings


Dough
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

Filling
2 pounds whole-milk ricotta
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh Italian basket cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 pound sopressata or other peeled, dried sausage, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 pound capicola, thinly sliced

Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt

1 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan, brushed with oil

  1. For the dough, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Whisk the remaining dough ingredients in a bowl and add to the work bowl. Pulse to mix the dough and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Press the dough into a rough rectangle and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour and as long as overnight.
  2. When you are ready to assemble and bake the pie, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  3. For the filling, put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and beat it smooth with a large rubber spatula. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Beat in the pepper, grated cheese, and parsley. Set aside briefly.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a bench scraper or a knife to cut off two thirds of it. Roll the larger piece of dough to a rectangle about 14 x 18 inches. Fold it in thirds lengthwise and center it in the pan. Unfold the dough to cover the inside of the pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan and leave any excess dough hanging over the rim of the pan.
  5. Spread about a third of the filling in the dough-lined pan and top with a layer of half the prosciutto slices. Top with half the slices of basket cheese, followed by half the slices of sopressata. Top with half the mozzarella slices, then top the mozzarella with half the slices of capicola. Spread the capicola with another third of the ricotta filling.
  6. Top the middle layer of filling with the remaining meats and cheeses, layering them as in step 5. Spread the top with the remaining ricotta filling.
  7. For the top crust, roll the remaining piece of dough to a 9 x 13-inch rectangle and arrange it over the filling. Brush the top crust with the egg wash. Trim the edge of the bottom crust to an even 1/2-inch overhang and fold it onto the top of the pie, over the top crust. Cut 4 2-inch vent holes in the top crust with the point of a knife.
  8. Bake the pie until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and firm, about 1 hour. Cool the pie on a rack.
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