Pizza rustica is not a pizza in the way that we’ve come to understand it, though anyone who’s spent time in Italy might well have come across it. The word pizza simply means pie, and this term denotes a deep, pastry-encased creation, stuffed with relatively unfancy ingredients. For a non-Italian, however, these ingredients are at the upper end of the economic scale, and hardly rustica at all, though any Italian deli should be able to supply you with the wherewithal easily enough, and increasingly the supermarkets stock what you’ll need too. The wonderful Anna del Conte gave me this recipe—from her magnum opus, The Gastronomy of Italy. Using a springform pan rather than pie dish makes the building-up of the pie easy, and the finished, unmolded creation looks a miracle of proud, golden accomplishment.
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 1 heaping teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8-inch springform pan, buttered
- 2 ounces luganega or other mild pure pork sausage, skinned
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Generous 8 ounces ricotta
- 2 ounces smoked provolone, diced
- 4 ounces Italian mozzarella, crumbled
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ½ clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 pinches chili powder or crushed dried red chilies
- 4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces mortadella, cut into small pieces
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Black pepper
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried bread crumbs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Pinch of salt
Put the flour and butter in a dish, and put this dish in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, water, and salt in a cup, and put this cup in the refrigerator. Then, when time’s up, tip the flour and butter into the bowl of the food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine: you want a soft crumbly mass, somewhere between sand and porridge oats. Bind with the egg yolks, water, and salt, and when it looks like it’s on the verge of coming together (you have to stop slightly short of this actually happening), tip the pastry out and press it together with your hands. Don’t worry, though, if the pastry is a little too damp: I find one of the miracles of this pre-freezing pastry technique is that it makes it more foolproof on every level. It always seems to roll out well.
Divide into two discs, one somewhat larger than the other, and put both into the refrigerator to rest wrapped in plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 400°F, put in a baking sheet, and get on with the filling. Fry the sausage in the oil for about 5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, then transfer it to a bowl and let it cool. At which time, add all the other ingredients except the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.
Roll out the larger disc of pastry between plastic wrap so it’s large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, leaving a few inches’ overhang. Sprinkle the bottom of the now pastry-lined pan with bread crumbs, and then fill with the hammy, eggy mixture waiting in its bowl. Roll out the smaller disc between plastic wrap to make the lid, place it on top of the filled pie, turn over the edges of the overhang to form a border and press down with the tines of a fork.
Just before baking, glaze the pie by brushing over the milky, salty egg, stab it here and there with the prongs of a fork to make steam holes, and place it on the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Give it 10 minutes at this temperature, then turn it down to 350°F and bake for a further 45 minutes.
Leave the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving it, but it’s at its best after about 25. It’s still wonderful at room temperature, though, and I long for leftovers too, eaten standing by the fridge’s open door the next day.
This recipe serves 10.