Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pizza Chiena: Neapolitan Meat and Cheese Pie (Modern Baker Challenge)

Meet my husband. He is a guy who, when he saw this ingredient list: 2 pounds of whole-milk ricotta, 6 large eggs, 1/2 cup pecorino romano, 8 ounces prosciutto, 8 ounces soppressata, 1 pound fresh Italian basket cheese, 1 pound fresh mozzarella, 8 ounces capicola, knew this would be one of his favorite recipes in all of Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker.

This is my official recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge's journey into the savory tarts and pies section. My hubby's pick. I've already made (and loved) the ham, egg, and cheese tart from this section, and I'm really happy to be in the savory world after months of sweets.

I couldn't believe the poundage of meat and cheese in this recipe, so instead of making a full batch (9x13 pan), I decided to make a half recipe and bake it in a 9" round pan. Size-wise, it seemed to work perfectly.

The dough was made an hour ahead of time: a simple pastry dough with flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, olive oil, and water. I thought I'd miss the traditional pizza crust, but the pastry crust was surprisingly tasty. I had a slight difficulty with the dough; it was way too wet. I'm not sure that it's an issue with the recipe, however; my Cuisinart has been hiding little pockets of extra flour under the blade lately and all of my doughs have been a little wet because of it. I just kneaded in a bit more flour by hand, and after refrigeration, it rolled out pretty easily.

The filling was made by layering a ricotta mixture (ricotta, grated romano, parsley, eggs, and pepper), the different meats, and the cheeses. I couldn't find fresh Italian basket cheese, so I used a combination of extra mozzarella and extra ricotta for that layer. NM says that it's "thoroughly Italian" to experiment with your own combinations of meat and cheese, so I was sure he'd approve!

The pizza pie is baked for an hour and then cooled slightly. We had it for dinner last night with salad. The kids didn't like it at all, but that didn't surprise me; they're not fans of the texture of ricotta and never like any lasagna-type dishes I make. I thought it was very rich and a tad dry. I don't think the dryness is a fault of the recipe, though; the recipe calls for whole-milk ricotta and I just couldn't bring myself to buy a pound of it on top of all of the other high-fat meats and cheeses in this dish, so I subbed in low-fat. I'm sure that affected the final texture of the dish.

As for the meat and cheese lover? He loved it! He had seconds last night and is happily gobbling up the leftovers for his lunches. I'm sure I'll be making this one again ~ by request.


  1. Now that's what I call a meat and cheese pie! That looks really good. Nice write up.

  2. Wow, that looks great and I am in awe of that list of filling ingredients...omw that sounds good. I can tell my guys are going to love this one. Yours looks delicious, all that oozing melty goodness!