I know, Easter is old news at this point. But we're gonna talk about Easter Pie anyway cause it took me a million years to make and turned out really, really great. And I suppose it's not against the law to eat it on a day that isn't Easter...any brunch menu would be happy to have it. Now, what exactly is Easter Pie? I'm so glad you asked...it's a savory, delicious, quiche-like treat that Italians traditionally serve on (you guessed it) Easter Sunday. I've tasted my fair share, but never actually made one until this last weekend. There's nothing inherently difficult about the recipe but it does take an extraordinarily long time (over the course of two days, mind you). Luckily, I had my grandmother's handy dandy cook book (as well as her phone number which I used several times throughout the course of the process) so at the very least I knew I was working in the right direction. For the record, the fact that everything came out tasting great was a small life victory for me...I mean, what's more assuring than the knowledge that tradition is safe in your hands? It's a good feeling...a great one, actually. One worth celebrating.
4 cups flour, unbleached all-purpose
1/ 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 large eggs (for the dough)
3 tsp iced water
8 oz Italian sausage, casings removed
3 large eggs, slightly beaten (for the filling)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese, drained overnight (<--- that part is important)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
4 oz pancetta, diced
4 oz sopressata, diced
1 medium egg, beaten (for the egg wash)
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening and butter with a fork until mixture resembles large crumbs.
Add eggs. Stir until blended and press mixture with hands until a soft dough forms. Add a little ice water if the dough is too dry. Form two disks: 1/4 of the dough in one and 3/4 dough in the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
After removing the casings from the sausage, break up into pieces and saute until no longer pink (about 10 minutes). Remove meat with a slotted spoon and chop into smaller pieces. Set aside with the rest of the diced meats.
In a large bowl, beat eggs and grated cheese until well blended. Stir in ricotta, sausage meat, mozzarella, and diced meats. Place oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger piece of dough to form a 14 inch circle.
Transfer dough to a 9 inch spring-form pan. Press against bottom and sides of pan. Fill with egg, cheese and meat mixture. Roll out remaining dough into a 9 inch circle. Cut into strips with a fluted pastry wheel. Criss-cross strips over the top of the pie forming an open lattice.
Pinch around the edge of the crust. Brush top with a beaten egg.
Since I made my Easter Pie the night before I served it, I covered it with aluminum foil and re-heated it for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. It warmed all the way through and tasted spectacular!