Pizza Chena (or as some people call it, appiza gaina) Italian Easter Tradition
5 cups flour
1 1/4 cup melted Crisco
3 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
3/4 cup warm water (if dry add more)
1 lb Regular Ham
1 lb Hot Capocollo
1/2 lb Prosciutto
1 1/2 lb of fresh basket cheese
1 lb mozzarella
1/2 lb provolone
18 -24 eggs beaten with a whisk
2 1/2 lb Ricotta
2 tablespoons pepper
1/4 cup grated cheese
Use a deep baking dish or large casserole dish.
Make the dough for the crust with the first 7 ingredients
Knead until smooth.
Roll out about 3/5 of the dough. If you have a silicone pastry mat, it helps by letting you lift it over the baking pan to judge if it’s the correct size. When it’s the right size, spray the pan with Pam and then lift the mat with with the dough and flip it into the pan. Help the dough settle down to the bottom of the baking pan and push it up against the sides of the pan.
Dice the meat and the cheese into small cubes.
Preheat your oven to 400°
Beat the eggs with a whisk, and then mix in the ricotta, Parmesan and pepper to the eggs.
Now combine the meat and cheese cubes into the egg/ricotta mixture.
Pour the mixture into the crust.
Roll out a crust with the remaining dough to cover the pie with it.
Brush the top with egg whites and water. Cut a long slit in the top of the crust, down the middle.
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.
Then turn down to 350° and bake for 60 more minutes.
Then 325° for 25 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and let it cool.
When it’s cool, it will be a dense aggregate of all things that are deliciously tasty. Wait at least three weeks before getting your cholesterol checked.
Pairs Well With
In our Italian American (mixed with some French Canadian) family, we had a lot of traditional foods passed down from the generations. One of my favorites at Easter is Pizza Chena.
This usually gets made a day or two before Easter. It’s a fair amount of work to prepare it, with all of the cutting of the meats and cheeses. Some of the ingredients, like the basket cheese, may only show up in your local stores only around this time of the year.
Dad usually makes at least two of these. Before the Easter holiday even arrives, close to one-half of one of them is usually gone from the nibbling that occurs.