Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Pizza Rustica

This isn't actually a  Tuesday's with Dorie week.  This is the off week but I decided to try to catch up on some recipes I missed before I joined the group, so periodically I'll be posting extra ones!  This week I tried Pizza Rustica.  The group actually posted about this recipe on April 3, and the recipe can be found on page 430 of Baking with Julia, or on the host's blogs:  Emily of Capital Region Dining and Raelynn of The Place They Call Home.

I would say that overall the reviews of Pizza Rustica were so-so.  Many fellow TWD bakers described the filling as bland and the crust as too sweet.  I knew I had my work cut out for me to transform this recipe into something delicious!  So while I generally don't deviate TOO much from a recipe when trying it the first time, I did vary a bit this time!

The basics of Pizza Rustica is that it is a savory pie with a sweet crust.  It isn't pizza-like at all, in the traditional pizza sense.  I find it to be more like a cheesy quiche, but with a top lattice crust.  That is how I described it to my family, anyway.

The crust is made in the food processor, with flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and eggs.  It is different than my usual crust but still really easy!  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup sugar, and since there were some complaints that it was too sweet, I reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup.  In the long run, I don't think I needed to reduce the sugar.  I barely tasted sweetness in the crust so I don't think I really got much of the savory/sweet twist of this recipe.  This crust is not as flaky as my usual crust, so I will probably stick with that one and amp up the sugar in that recipe if I want a sweeter crust in the future.

After mixing the dough in the food processor, you pat it into a ball and put it aside until needed.  You don't need to refrigerate it if you plan to make the pizza right away, but if you intend to wait on making the pizza, the dough can be saved for up to 3 days.  I went ahead and refrigerated mine even though I was making the pizza right away, since it is so humid and hot here.  I didn't want to take the chance of the dough getting too warm.

Now  how are we going to jazz up the filling of this "pizza"?  The original recipe calls for ricotta, eggs, Pecorino Romano, mozzarella, prosciutto, parsley and black pepper.  Since many reviewers said it was bland, I knew I needed work on this filling.  The recipe called for 1/4 pound prosciutto, but instead of adding more prosciutto I added another 1/4 pound of shredded black forest ham.  I also added a large shallot which I sauteed in olive oil and a tiny bit of good balsamic vinegar, a few dashes of nutmeg, and a few pinches of this awesome truffle sea salt my sister gave us.  I wanted to be careful with salt, since I added a bunch of ham and Romano cheese tends to be pretty salty, but could not resist adding the truffle salt!   The recipe calls for a pound of whole milk ricotta but I bought part skim ricotta.  I did not get the grocery store brand, but got one in the fancier part of the cheese department in the same sort of container.  Is it actually better?  I have no idea!

Remember the ball of dough in the refrigerator?  Well, I took it out and divided it into two pieces, one being twice the size of the other one.  I rolled the big one into a circle to fit the pie plate and gently laid it into place.  I spread in the filling, and then rolled out the smaller piece of dough into a 9 inch square.  The square was cut into 12 pieces for the lattice.  I wish I had a pastry cutter with that pretty pinked edge (it is called pinked in sewing, is it pinked in baking too??).  Alas, I do not have such a fancy cutter so I used a pizza wheel (appropriate, no?) to sort of evenly slice my dough.  The recipe tells you to do a modified lattice top, which isn't actually woven at all!  I just laid six pieces evenly across the pie, turned the plate, and laid the remaining six across the first.  Then I trimmed and pressed the edges and voila!  I have what looks like a super fancy pie!  I will have to use this technique again!!

Into the oven it went, for about 40 minutes at 375F.  You are supposed to let the pie cool completely before serving but I  am rarely able to allot time for that.  I let it cool quite a bit and then sliced it to serve for dinner with a tossed salad and a glass of pinot noir.  Mmmmm.

It was a hit with the entire family!  Honestly, the clever girl ate the same size piece as I.  It astounds me that she remains at around 5% on the height and weight charts at the pediatrician's office.  It is not for lack of eating, that is certain! 

Since I did not try the recipe without the alterations I made, I cannot truly make comparisons, but this "pizza" was far from bland.  We enjoyed it and I would make it again!  Oh, and I reheated it for lunch a couple of times and it was even better reheated.  If I was totally on the ball next time, I might make it a day in advance and give it time for all of the flavors to meld together because it really did get better!

Yeah!  Success!

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