My former mother-in-law's Italian Easter Pie is too good not to share. She died last year, and hadn't baked since the circumstances of her later life, which for her included a greatly reduced immediate family circle as well as dementia, changed her from the middle-aged woman I knew and loved into the old woman who didn't know me. I make this pie every year now for her grandsons.
I use a lightly-oiled springform pan and pizza dough purchased in a ball from the pizzeria-- my former mother in law was up at o'dark-hundred making her own dough for the crust, but I don't do that.
Heat oven to 375-400 degrees.
For the filling, use one tall container of ricotta cheese, at least. An egg or two, as you prefer. Black pepper to taste (and I always like a sprinkle of nutmeg with ricotta, but that's just me). Mix til creamy.
I use a stand mixer, and while that's mixing on low, I cut into cubes:
- provolone and mozzarella cheeses
- Italian dried sausage
- Genoa salami.
I also roll up and jullienne some proscuitto, not much--it's expensive and a little goes a long way, anyway. Some people also add quartered hard-boiled eggs. I don't, but you could if you liked. As you can see, this is not so much a recipe as a "feel your way."
Add the cubed meats and cheeses to the ricotta mixture and blend. Some people add parsely, but I don't like the color it turns when baked, so I don't.
Place springform pan on a baking sheet (line with foil for cleaning purposes), and bake on middle shelf for approx. 15 minutes. Check once; if edges of crust are browning while center is pale, place strips of foil around and over the browned parts (be careful, they're hot). Adhere with toothpicks if necessary.
Put pie back in oven for increments of four minutes, checking for doneness mostly by looking at the color of the crust. Should end up golden in the middle, browner on the edges.
Remove from oven and let cool in the pan before placing in fridge for 6-8 hours. Remove from pan before serving. I usually bake it on Saturday night for Sunday morning (breakfast) consumption. Serve cold or let come to room temp.
Caveat: the bottom dough soaks up the moisture from the cheese, and becomes soggy upon sitting. It might be possible to strain the cheese before mixing, but I have never been able to get myself together enough to do that in advance. Just be aware of this as the day wears on, and when eating slices later in the day, just eat the top and side crusts with the incredibly rich, creamy and flavorful filling.
(I don't think individual slices can be rebaked; the filling would ooze out. Just practice acceptance. And give thanks to Rose Castellano Sorvillo, the patient and loving mother-in-law who taught me, a daft Scottish girl, to make this delicious Italian Easter Pie.)