How to Make “Pizza Chiena”

For many years, I enjoyed a dish at Easter I thought to be called “Pizzaguine”.  That’s how I heard it, and that’s how I expected to see it in writing.  No such luck.

So, after an exhaustive search on the internet, I found out that the dish was actually probably “pizza chiena”.  Some people might called it Easter pie, pizza rustica, carnival pie, etc.  Whatever you call it, it is basically meat, cheese and eggs in a nice crust.

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I figured out the name, but the other trick is determining which recipe is the right one.  Unfortunately, there are so many recipes, because “pizza chiena” means different things in different families.  Secondly, the nature of the recipe is that it has traditionally used leftover meats. 

With this information in mind, a friend and I set out to try to replicate the recipe we both know and love.  Remarkably, she and I had very similar ideas of what the dish should be.  Rather than slicing the meat, we would cut it into chunks.  Instead of layering the eggs and cheese mixture with the meats, we would mix it all together.  We even had similar ideas about the meat.

Tonight was the night to make the “pizza chiena”.  We ended up with four versions.  We used pie dough, pastry dough, and homemade dough for the crusts.  We used basically the same egg and cheese base with some “base” meats.  Each version was enhanced with variations of sharp and mild meats and cheeses. 

Here are most of the ingredients I used.  I need to get the recipe from my friend, then I’ll fill in the details.

  • ricotta cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • eggs
  • mortadella
  • ham
  • capicola
  • salami
  • prosciutto

It’s not healthy eating, but it sure is delicious.  Have you made “pizza chiena”?  What is your recipe?  Do you call it something else?

Breakfast:  Lowfat Granola Cereal; Yogurt, nonfat; Raisins; Bread, rye; Morning Coffee

Morning Snack:  Ham, low-fat; Mandarin Oranges

Lunch:  Chicken and Pasta in Cacciatore Sauce; Cabbage, raw; FF Dressing

Afternoon Snack:  Zesty Herb Snack Mix

Dinner:  Chicken Pasta Parmesan; Brussel Sprouts, cooked; Mandarin Oranges; Oil, canola, olive, peanut, safflower; Pasta, cooked al dente

Dessert:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

Drinks:  Crystal Light; diet soda

Exercise:  none today.

Pedometer:  ?

8 Responses to “How to Make “Pizza Chiena””

  • carmela:

    pizza chiena is my absolute favorite. growing up was torture because we couldn’t touch it until Easter & my parents made it on Friday… my mom always made her crust. but I found a much better way that my parents now use as well.
    I purchase dough from the bakery, I use fresh cheese (I think they only make it around Easter time, it kind of resembles Feta, but it’s not) , Salami, sopressata, dry sausage & mortadella. cut them up in small cubes (the meat & cheese)..
    I make this once a year & my husband & kids think it’s stupid that I cna’t make iot more often.. But it’s such a tradition… makes you look forward to it…

  • hey that pizza chiena seems to be quietly disgusting…that is not the right recipe,believe me !!!

  • Derek:

    It makes me wonder if it is the Americanization of an Italian recipe that makes it “quietly disgusting”? Or maybe I have the wrong name?

    I know what I made with my friend is very similar to what I ate as a kid at Easter, but it may have lost its connection to Italy. You might find Hawaiian Pizza disgusting in Italy, too!

    I would love an authentic Italian recipe! If you have one, can you post it?

    Thank you.

  • sorry sorry sorry! ,forgive my words! I didnt mean that, but it was an instant reaction to those pictures !that is not pizza chiena,but what we call a “rustico”.Anyway ,pizza chiena is the right term.It is southern dialect.Pizza chiena is a special dish on easter time of Benevento region.In Naples,people make the so called”casatiello and tortano” (on the internet you can find hundreds of recipes).I live in Benevento and I have been eating pizza chiena all my life.My mother made it an so did my grandmother.Now it is my sister and I to forward the tradition.I cannot give the right amount of ingredients ,it is a “visual”tradition .There are indeed hundreds of varieties.For a medium pizza we use:for the dough: 600/700 gr of white flour,some 90/100 gr of butter(my mother used “sugna”-a white fat made up of pork fat – here in Italy we buy it at the supermarket),2 eggs(yes,eggs!).a little bit of salt,some 30 gr of brewers yeast and enough water to make a pizza-like dough ,but harder .It has to rise 2 hours in a warm place, into a large bowl covered by a napkin .After that,it has to be spread out into a round non-sticking baking pan(30 cm wide),using 70% of the dough to cover the whole tin .You have to use a rolling pin on a large table sprinkled with flour(otherwhise it sticks)making a “sfoglia”(sheet)no thicker than 50 mm.At this point you can add the fill.WE use only “capicollo”sliced into large 50 mm thick pieces,Then add cheese.Only one type!we use mainly a white half-fresh cheese we do not find in supermarkets.It is quiet insipid.But you can use scamorza cheese or “galbanino”sliced into large pieces.We make a layers of cheese and layers of capicollo. in order to get at the half of the baking pan (500 gr capicollo,500 gr cheese).At this point add 6/7 whisked eggs with a couple of teaspoons of parmesan cheese(no more than that!taking care that eggs cover every corner of the pan .Now make another smaller sheet with the rest of the dough (as thick as the former larger sheet)and cover the fill by sticking it to the sides of the pan.cutting away the surplus sheet.Take care not to make whisked eggs come out .Cook at 180 °in the oven for 50 minutes.

    This is what WE make ,it is not the ONLY recipe,but it is just the tradition.There are several varieties,according to personal taste or just the ingredients you have in the fridge…but that is a “rustico”that I also like as well .

    I am so happy that this dish has taken roots so far from Italy.May I know where you live or from what part of Italy your ancestors came?bye pasquale

  • Derek:

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I cannot wait to try it.

    I am ashamed to say I don’t know exactly where my ancestors lived. My great-great-grandparents came from Italy many years ago.

  • Angelo:

    I own a small restaurant, my great-grandparents and father from Pomigliano d’Arco, Napoli, from Sorrento on Mom’s side.

    This dish is regional and made differently in just about each household in southern Italy, and yes, this comes from a tradition that originally used left over dried meats and soft cheeses, and it was made at Easter time. The key is the ingredients you mention. The one I ate as a child is about 5-6 inches thick when done. We use, for the filling, ricotta, boiled eggs, suprasatta, prosciutto, reggiano, and fresh mozzarella. I like to season the ricotta a bit with pepper, you will get plenty of salts from the meats. For the dough I use my pizza dough; this is different and less flaky a crust than grandma made and my aunts still use, but the flavor is exact.

    Don’t kill yourself with measurements on this recipe. Get yourself a deep baking pan. Line it with a dough you like. As the author says, mix your choice of ingredients together in a big bowl, put into the shell, cover with more dough, and bake. When you bake, remember that the thicker the pie, the lower the temperature, and remove when brown since everything is already cooked. The great thing about this recipe is if we visited several households, it was always slightly different. This is the uniqueness of this dish, and many an Italian housewife prided herself on her own variation, more often than not derived from what she could afford. Try several things until you get the combo you like.

  • Louis:

    Pasquale,

    Thanks for sharing that recipe for Pizza Chiena. My parents are from Italy between Naples and Benevento, and my mother always made this at Easter. The main difference between the recipe you mention, and all the others I’ve seen on the internet is that in my family they added cooked pasta to the filling. Usually tubetini or acini pepe. The pasta was mixed with the eggs and cheese, along with the meats.

  • Kathy:

    Hello Angelo, Foolishly thinking that I never attempt to make my mother’s “Pizzagain” (as we pronounced it) after she passed, I discarded the pans that she used to make it in. They were *deep* (like you say, about 5 or 6 in. when finished). Well, for the past 10 yrs. I have been attempting to continue the tradition of my mother’s pizza, but cannot find any round enamel-coated baking pans (like my mother, and my grandmother before her, used) *anywhere*. Having trouble following my mom’s recipe as to the timing because mine isn’t nearly as deep. Do you, or any other readers, have any idea where I might find these extremely deep pans? Recently yet *another* Easter has passed without my having gotten my hands on the proper “Pizzagain” pans, and I could kick myself for not having kept hers. (As a matter of fact, I can feel my mother kicking me, too, for throwing them away!)

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