Pizza Rustica: Men Like Meat

I invited my brother over for dinner last night.  There is something about having a bachelor little brother, that creates the urge to want to feed him and fill him up with good food.  Because he couldn't possibly be eating decent food on his own, right? I decided to make Pizza Rustica, which basically means meat pie in Italian.  It is a sweet crust pie filled with many different types of cheese and meat.  I made mine with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, bacon, and pepperoni, thinking the requirements for a man's dish would be met.  Lots of melty cheese?  Check.  Red meat?  Check.  We're good to go....or so I thought.  When I was making the recipe, it called for quite a few eggs and I wondered if my aspiring meat-cheese man's dish was actually going to turn out like a quiche.  Oh well, I plunged forward and went for it anyway.

Pulling it out of the oven it looked good, it smelled good, it would be fine.  When I took my first bite it tasted great, but very similar to a quiche.  My son and I liked it, I knew my husband would be so-so, then I asked my home cooked-meal-challenged little brother what he thought.  He turns to me, looking thoughtful, and says, "It's good.  But I would add more meat, more cheese...and a little rosemary".  Who would have thought he even knew what rosemary was?  So there you have it.  If you like quiche type foods, you will like this.  If you're a man and like meat, then follow my brothers advice.

Pizza Rustica

The Dough:
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces (or 4 oz cold shortening)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the butter and cut in with a fork, until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Add the beaten eggs and mix together with a fork until a ball forms.  Remove the dough and knead it a few times until it is smooth.  Wrap with plastic and set aside.  If not using right away, place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator.

The Filling:
16 oz ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese, blended until smooth)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 oz pepperoni, sausage, or prosciutto
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.  If you are using cottage cheese, then blend it until it is smooth.  Add the eggs, stirring until well blended.  Add the parmesan, mozzarella, bacon, and pepperoni or sausage.  Stir until combines.  Add the oregano, salt, and pepper, and stir.

Preheat your oven to 350F and place your oven rack in the lower third of the oven.  Divide the dough into two pieces, making one ball twice the size as the other.  Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour.  The roll out the larger dough ball into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer the dough circle to a 9 inch glass pie plate, lightly pressing the dough against the bottom and sides.  If the dough tears, just patch it together with your fingers.  Trim the excess dough away from the rim of the plate.  Pour the filling into the pie dish and smooth the top. 

Take the smaller dough ball and roll it out into a 9 inch square.  Using a pizza or pastry cutter, or a thin sharp knife, cut 12 even strips.  Lay 6 of the strips across the pie, spaced 1 1/4 inches apart, then crisscross the strips by placing the other 6 strips diagonally across the first.  Trim the edge of the strips even with the edge of the plate, and pinch to seal the edges.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is firm and looks puffed.  Cool before serving.

(adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan)

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