Torta Rustica

So, every year for Easter my fella and I make his Grandmother’s recipe for Pizza Rustica. This year, we decided to shake things up and try a different version of this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. While I enjoyed this recipe and all the different textures of it, I found the ricotta layer to be too rich and the broccoli rabe could be a little bitter. However, I will say it only got better after being in the fridge for a few days. It may just be that my first exposure to this recipe through a family recipe may color my impression, but I prefer my fella’s grandmother’s recipe, which is more reminiscent of a quiche in filling.

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Use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep. If your pan is light-colored, increase the baking time to 45 to 50 minutes. Substitute low-fat ricotta if you like. Note that the dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you roll it out, and the baked pie must cool for about 4 hours.

DOUGH

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled

FILLING

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (2 cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced aged provolone cheese
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced hot capicola [We couldn’t find capicola on short notice and so we substituted a different cured Italian meat and it still tasted yummy.]
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  1. FOR THE DOUGH: Whisk eggs and cold water together in bowl; set aside. Process flour and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Scatter butter and shortening over top and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain, about 10 pulses. Add egg mixture and pulse until dough ball forms, about 20 pulses. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 20 turns. Divide dough into one 1-pound ball and one 10-ounce ball (roughly into two-thirds and one-third) and form each into 6-inch disk. Wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  2. FOR THE FILLING: Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli rabe, sausage, and salt and cook, breaking up sausage with spoon, until sausage is cooked through and broccoli rabe is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to plate and let cool completely, about 15 minutes. Whisk ricotta, Pecorino, eggs, and pepper together in large bowl.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease dark-colored 9-inch round cake pan. [I don’t have a deep enough cake pan, so I used a springform pan.] Roll 1-pound disk of dough into 14-inch circle on well-floured counter. [Note: I found this dough difficult to work with. It wanted to keep breaking up rather than staying smooth. Nonetheless, I just filled in gaps with dough with my fingers, and when it baked, it ultimately stayed together and tasted great. Don’t be afraid of dough just because it’s weird!]
  4. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto prepared pan, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into pan by gently lifting and supporting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into pan bottom and sides with your other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place.
  5. Shingle half of provolone in bottom of dough-lined pan. Spread ricotta mixture over provolone. Scatter sausage mixture over ricotta mixture and press lightly into even layer. Shingle capicola over sausage mixture, followed by remaining provolone.
  6. Roll remaining disk of dough into 10-inch circle on well-floured counter. Brush overhanging dough of bottom crust with egg wash. Loosely roll 10-inch circle around rolling pin and gently unroll it over filling. Trim overhanging top and bottom doughs to ½ inch beyond lip of pan and pinch firmly together. Fold overhanging dough inward so folded edge is flush with edge of pan. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pan with tines of fork.
  7. Brush top of pie liberally with egg wash. Using paring knife, cut eight 1-inch vents in top of dough in circular pattern. Bake until filling registers 150 degrees in center of pie and crust is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pie to wire rack and let cool for at least 4 hours before serving or cool and refrigerate for up to two days. Remove pie from pan, slice into wedges, and serve.
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Step 5. Pretty, right?!

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