Why do we bake Pizzagaina, AKA Easter Meat Pie? Because our Moms, our Aunts, our Nonnies all baked this pie.
This bake in particular has such strong memories tied to it that even if it was me and I had no one to give the pies to, I would still bake this recipe. It is tradition.
This is my Mom's version of Pizzagaina
For the crust, I use the Pate Brise, from the Silver Palate Cookbook. For some reason, I do not have my Mom's crust recipe. I leave out the sugar and add pepper, about a 1/2 tsp. of pepper.
The Crust - (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 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. Scrap 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 -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket_cheese
Mix all ingredients. Roll out a quarter of the dough. Place the crust in the 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 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." This year I had no overflowing pie filling. Yeah!!!
I made the crusts last Friday night and froze them.
I boiled the pepperoni and diced the meats and cooked the sausage on Thursday night.
Last night I started the pies together at about 7:30 pm. I took the last pie out of the oven at 12:15 am.