I consider savory foods encased in pastry about as good as it gets, and this Pizza Rustica has been in my baking repertoire for many years. When the temperatures drop and daylight hours wane, I start craving meals like this.
The following post is from Passions to Pastry's 2008 archives:
My daughter was in NYC over New Years. She was born 18 miles from Manhattan, across the George Washington Bridge, when we lived there for two years in the 1980's. I spent much of those two years exploring NYC. I rarely would take the subway. I preferred walking so I could see everything there was to see. One day I covered 112 blocks. When friends came for a visit, we would go into the city and the first place I would take them was a food emporium. My favorites were Zabar's, Balducci's and Dean & DeLuca. Luckily, most of my friends felt the same way about food as I did, but occasionally there would be the visitor who was wondering why we weren't at the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. So, when my daughter was planning her trip to NYC and asked me for suggestions on where to eat, knowing how I roamed and combed that city, I realized the names I gave her were restaurants I read about and would like to try the next time I visited NYC. Many of the places I frequented when we lived there almost 25 years ago no longer exist. The average life expectancy for a restaurant in NYC is 2 years. But it got me thinking about the places I used to go and one of my favorites was the DDL Foodshow on the Upper West Side. DDL stood for Dino De Laurentiis, movie producer, restaurateur and grandfather of Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame. My favorite item on the menu was the Pizza Rustica. I had never eaten it before and this one was really good! Giada has a Pizza Rustica recipe (possibly her grandfathers??). I don't know if it's the same one that was served at the restaurant, but it is very good and it's the one I now make and you see in these photos.
PIZZA RUSTICA | Giada De Laurentiis
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 8 ounces hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 16 ounce bag chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and drained
• 1 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta
• 12 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
• 4 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
• Pastry dough, recipe follows
• 1 large egg, beaten to blend
1. Position rack on the bottom of the oven, and preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy, large frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausages and sauté until golden brown, breaking the sausages into pieces, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
3. Into a large bowl, add egg yolks and beat lightly. Stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Add the sausage, the spinach, and the prosciutto, and stir to combine.
4. Roll out the larger piece of dough on a floured work surface to a 17-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan (I used a 9-inch high-sided tart pan with a removable bottom). Trim the dough overhang to 1-inch. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dough-lined pan. Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round. Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the doughs together to seal, then crimp the dough edges decoratively. Brush the beaten 1 large egg over the pastry top. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake on the bottom shelf until the crust is golden brown; about 1 hour.
5. I let my Pizza Rustica set for about 1 hour before unmolding. The recipe says to unmold after 15 minutes, but I have had the hot filling break through the pastry before, so I like to be certain the filling has cooled sufficiently.
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 1/4 cup cold, solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 eggs, beaten to blend
• 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1. Blend the flour, butter, vegetable shortening and salt in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in the eggs. With the machine running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into two pieces with 1 piece twice as large as the second piece. Flatten the dough pieces into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
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