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  • Lucia Borzillo

Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina

It is that time of year. When you go to the deli counter and hope that the person behind the counter understands what you are looking for. When you say, "I am baking Italian Meat pies and need everything cut with the slicer set to 5." That info about #5 setting came from Jeanne who I sit next to at church. It is the setting she requests when ordering meat for her meat pie. You see we all have the same tradition.

My recipe is my Mom's. To me the most important part of the pie is the crust. I think I make a damn good crust. My sister makes a crust better than mine. I think she uses vodka in her recipe. The recipe I use is the Pate Brise found in the Silver Palate Cookbook. I just add pepper to the recipe.

Pate Brisee - (this recipe is for 2 pies, top, and bottom crusts)


6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

22 Tbsp sweet butter, chilled

12 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled

1 cup of ice water

Sift the flour, salt, and pepper together into a bowl; add butter and shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is like a coarse meal.

Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.

Turn dough out onto your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina


2 pounds baked ham, diced

1 pound pepperoni, skinned, diced and boiled, drained (boiling removes excess grease) 1 pound sweet sausage, fully cooked, drained 1 pound basket cheese, diced Mix all ingredients. Roll out a quarter of the dough. Place the crust in a pie dish. Use a pie dish with handles if you have one. You will want to check the bottom of the pie to see if it is browned. Add half of the meat and cheese mixture to the dish. Break and mix 3 eggs (each pie requires 3 eggs) and pour over the top of the meat. Roll out another quarter of the dough. Place on top of the meat. Crimp edges. Cut 3 slits in crust. Bake 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. (I baked mine for an hour and 15 minutes). Repeat this for the second pie.

With the meat recipe, you may end up with enough for more than the two pies. Let just say it is one of those Easter miracles. I usually make enough dough for 6 pies just in case. The crust recipe above is only for 2 pies. I prefer to make the crust in small batches. Making enough for 6 pies at once is more than my kitchen or I can handle. The crust can go in the freezer so it is "like money in the bank."

When the pies are in the oven keep an eye on overflow. The egg might spill out the slits. It may be a good idea to put some foil under the pie dishes on the lower rack. As long as the egg does not spill over your house will smell amazing.

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