Pizza Rustica
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Pizza Rustica

Years ago, Dino told me about one of his most special, traditional Italian holiday foods memories – Pizza Rustica. It’s basically a stuffed pizza full of high quality meats and cheeses that was reserved for special occasions.

It sounded incredibly rich and decadent, and I never thought it would be something I’d try to make at home… until I saw a recipe from Michael Lomonaco’s mother in a cookbook.

Pizza Rustica

First things first – this dish takes a few hours to make from the time you start the dough to the time you’re able to serve it. So plan accordingly.

Also, don’t forget to add the butter to the dough, remembering only after you’ve kneaded it by hand for 5 full minutes. Oops.

(And yes, the dough felt MUCH better the second time around. I’m just glad I realized what I had done before I assembled the pizza and put it into the oven!)

Pizza Rustica

I used a 9-inch springform pan, and it was really tough to get the dough all the way up the sides to be able to seal the crust. I was definitely worried about it while it was baking, but it worked out just fine. Next time, I’d cut even less for the top crust so there would be more for the bottom.

One other thing to note – the recipe instructs you to preheat the oven first – before the dough chills in the fridge for an hour. I waited until I was about to roll the dough to preheat.

Pizza Rustica

This pizza was a HUGE hit at the dinner table! My husband was in heaven! He had been raving about this dish for years, but had only had it once before now. My mom and aunt were in town, so they got to enjoy this decadent pizza, too.

The sweetness of the crust goes so perfectly with all of the saltiness from the salami, prosciutto and pecorino Romano. A healthy amount of ricotta and mozzarella make it nice and creamy.

Pizza Rustica

This pizza takes a while to cool off, and you want it to cool off before you eat it so that the cheese has a chance to solidify, giving you these gorgeous, clean slices.

This wasn’t as much hands-on work as I thought it would be, so it’s definitely something I’ll do again sometime.

Pizza Rustica
Mom’s Secret Recipe File – Chris Styler
Michael Lomonaco’s mother

Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading the dough
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese, preferably made from sheep’s milk
8 ounces sliced Genoa salami, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
4 ounces sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Olive oil

1. Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the flour, sugar, butter, water, 3 egg yolks, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until they form a ball of dough. Remove the dough, place on a floured work surface, and knead fro 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface. Cover the ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

2. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, salami, mozzarella, prosciutto, Romano cheese, the remaining 3 egg yolks, and 1 teaspoon of pepper until well blended. Refrigerate while you prepare the pastry shell.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut one-third off to be used as the top crust. Roll the larger piece out on a floured work surface, to a 12-inch-wide circle. Brush the inside of a 10-inch springform pan with oil and transfer the circle of dough to the pan. Using your fingertips press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan, making sure the dough has a flat bottom and is tucked into the seam of the pan. Pull the dough up the side to reach the top edge of the pan. Pour the filing into the dough and rap the pan sharply on the countertop once or twice to settle and distribute it evenly. (See Note.) Roll the remaining smaller piece of dough into a 10-inch circle and place this over the filling. Pinch the edges of the two pieces together to seal the edge completely. Cut a cross into the top crust so that the steam can escape during baking. Set the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the top is well browned, 45 to 55 minutes.

4. Remove the pizza from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the crust from the pan and open the springform pan. Cool completely before serving at room temperature.

Note: Depending on the thickness of the ricotta, you may have to spread the filling into an even layer with a metal spatula.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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