This past Saturday morning I was home and watching the Archway Farmer’s Market happening just outside the flat. I could see the cheese and salame stands from the window and I got a craving for something my mom used to make called ‘La Pizza Rustica’ – a cheese bomb of paradise that she made for Easter, made of ricotta mixed with eggs, grated parmigiano, and cubes of any other hard cheese and salame. She only made it once a year, thank god she did, because with one bite I could feel it making a bee-line for my thighs.
The word pizza may seem like a misnomer since what we think of as traditional pizza from Napoli is nothing this covered pie of decadence; although this is a Neapolitan recipe.
I had never made it before, but I like trying to make things my mother made and it makes me feel a little bit closer to her. So I went shopping downstairs at the market and with a little bit of help from Davide and the internet, I set out to make it. In the end it came out good, just the way I remembered it, but there was a little snaffu while cooking it that kind of made it look disgusting. But still, it’s too delicious to not share with you, so I’ll tell you how to make and how not to make this Pizza Rustica Italiana.
(Other recipes call for a rich dough using suet, sugar, eggs, flour and butter and require you to bake the whole thing in the oven. Mamma used a simple pizza dough of flour and water and she then cooked it on the stove.)
La Pizza Rustica Napoletana
1 deep dish pan that you can cook on the stove (alternatively you can use a round dish that you can put in the oven because flipping it during cooking gets a bit tricky.)
1 rolling pin
400 g all-purpose flour
200 g water
10 g yeast
600 g ricotta
200 g milk
100 g grated parmigiano, pecorino or other hard cheese (I used a Trentingrana that comes from Trentino in the upper North East corner of Italy)
100 g of cubes of hard cheese (I used piave stravecchia)
100g of assorted dried salame cut into cubes (you could use ham too, especially if you don’t want it to be too salty)
1 egg yolk
1. For the dough, mix the yeast with the water and then mix it with the dough. You can use a mixer for this to really mix and activate the yeast and get the dough nice and soft. Otherwise you can use your hands to mix it all together until you get a somewhat sticky ball of dough and then knead it with your hands on the counter. Once nice and soft, put it back in the bowl and cover it with a plate or towel and leave it to rest and rise while you make the filling.
Watch Davide show you how to do knead dough:
2. For the filling, put the ricotta, milk, grated cheese and egg yolk in a bowl and mix well. Add the cubes of cheese and salame.
3. When the dough is ready, cut it in half and roll out two circular pieces. Roll out a bigger piece which you’ll use to line the bottom and the sides of the pan. Be careful to not roll it too thin.
4. Line the pan and sides with sunflower oil. Then place the piece of dough at the bottom of the pan, pressing into the side and letting the excess dough fall over the rim.
5. Spoon the filling into the pan.
6. Place the other disc of dough on top and fold in the sides. Dust a good amount of flour on top.
7. Cook the pizza on low heat for 10 minutes. If it starts to burn a little you can sneak in some more oil from the sides.
8. Flip the pizza over and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
*This is the tricky bit. Take a plate and put it upside down on top of the pan. Make sure the top of the pizza, the uncooked part, has some flour on it, otherwise the dough is going to stick to the plate. With one hand on top of the plate, lift the pan and turn it over so the pizza rests on top of the plate with the cooked top facing up. Slide the pizza back into the pan. (My problem was that I rolled the dough to thin so the filling exploded into an oozy doughy mess when I tried to flip it.
9. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place on a plate and refrigerate it for a few hours. Some people wait 24 hours, but I couldn’t wait that long.