The recipe I have put together here for your enjoyment is one of my favorite holiday comfort foods: Easter Meat Pie. This recipe is a culmination of over 130 years of competing family versions, all self-proclaimed blue-ribbon winners, of course.
My grandmother would spend days preparing the ingredients and making as many pies as I could count. Family came from Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, and the real treasonous ones that moved as far as Long Island and New Jersey even made the trip for one of her pies. By Holy Thursday these masterpieces were starting to come out of the oven, an oven in a tiny kitchen that seemed like a magical place especially at the holidays. By the end of the day on Good Friday, white bed sheets were covering all the furniture and there were pies in every inch of the apartment!
I still cannot believe how Grandma was able to pump out not only a tremendous volume of food but make everything taste totally amazing. The good old days were indeed special. As the song says, "Let the good times roll," so I want to offer this recipe from my family to yours and wish everyone a blessed Passover and Happy Easter!
As an FYI if you want to cut down on the prep for this labor-intensive recipe, I highly recommend you visit the fantastic butchers at Mario's Meat Market and Deli on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village or Iavarone Brothers on Grand Avenue in Maspeth. Simply put your order in and ask them to prepare the meat and cheese into cubes for you. Even if it costs a little extra it will save your hands and your time.
GRANDMA'S EASTER MEAT PIE
Ingredients for Filling:
1 lb. ricotta salada or "Basket Cheese"
1 lb. fresh Mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 lb. fresh Pecorino Romano grated cheese
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
4 fresh eggs
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage out of the casing (pan-fried and drained well)
3/4 lb. proscuitto, cubed
3/4 lb. hot sopressata, cubed
3/4 lb. Genoa salami, cubed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, mix all these ingredients thoroughly and let sit in the chill chest while you make the crust.
Ingredients for Crust:
3 and 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients then slowly mix in the olive oil and once that's been mixed in well add your water and knead the dough 5-7 minutes. Roll into a ball and place in plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Craft the Crust:
Put your dough on a floured board, cut a small piece to make the top of the crust.
Roll out your dough and line the bottom and sides of roasting pan, Pyrex casserole dish or any other pie form you may fancy.
Fill the Pie:
Fill the pie with your meat and cheese mixture, distribute it evenly and press it in good.
Roll out your top pie crust, cap and crimp the edges.
Pop a few vent holes in the top crust.
With your scrap dough, fashion a Cross.
Egg wash the pie and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees or until the pie is golden brown
Pull the pie out of the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
This pie is great warm (not hot) and even cold out of the refrigerator. Mangia!
John Ricco is a licensed mortgage broker and local chef living in Maspeth with roots in Greenpoint, Brooklyn dating back to 1892.