Pizza Chiena

Neapolitan Meat & Cheese Pie

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes one 9 × 13 × 2 inch 23 × 33 × 5 cm ) pie, about

    24

    2 inch square servings

Appears in

“Pizza chiena” is Neapolitan dialect for what would be called “pizza ripiena” or filled pizza in Italian. Originally this pastry was made like a giant turnover with a raw pizza crust—the type used for a standard large individual pizza in Naples—and filled with ricotta and cured meats before being folded over and baked. It is the ancestor of what pizzerias now call a calzone. By and by, the pizza crust was transformed into a pastry dough, though there are some versions of pizza chiena that use a yeast-risen crust that recalls the original pizza crust. The assortment of cured meats and cheeses here is a fairly standard one, though it varies from town to 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.

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Ingredients

Pastry Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water

Filling

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) whole-milk ricotta
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 pound (450 grams) fresh Italian basket cheese, cut into ¼-inch (6-mm) slices
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) soppressata or other peeled, dried sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (450 grams) fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch (6-mm) slices
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) capicola, thinly sliced
  • Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
  • One 9 × 13 × 2-inch (23 × 33 × 5-cm) pan, brushed with oil

Method

  1. For the dough, combine the Hour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Whisk together the eggs, oil, and water in a bowl, and then add to the dry ingredients. Pulse to mix the dough and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the work surface. Press the dough into a rough rectangle and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour or as long as 2 days.
  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°F (180°C).
  3. For the filling, put the ricotta in a large bowl and beat it smooth with a large rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each. Heat 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 ⅔ of it. Roll the larger piece of dough to a rectangle about 14 × 18 inches (35 × 45 cm.) Fold it in thirds lengthwise and center it in the pan. Unfold the dough to cover the inside of the pan. Press the dough well into the bottom and sides of the pan and leave any excess dough hanging over the rim.
  5. Spread ⅓ of the filling in the dough-lined pan and top with ½ the prosciutto slices. Top with ½ the slices of basket cheese, followed by ½ the slices of soppressata. Top with ½ the mozzarella slices, then top the mozzarella with ½ the slices of capicola. Spread the capicola with another ⅓ 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 × 13-inch (23 × 33-cm) 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 ½-inch (1-cm) overhang and fold it over the top crust. Cut four 2-inch (5-cm) vent holes in the top crust with the point of a knife. Bake the pie until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and firm, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack.

Storage

Keep the pie at room temperature between baking and serving the day it is baked. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers. Bring them to room temperature before serving again.

Serving

Cut the pie into 2-inch (5-cm) squares right in the pan. Use an offset spatula or pie server to lift the squares from the pan. Serve the pie as a first

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