This is a Brame family recipe that has been handed down through the generations; on a recent Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Brame herself stopped by our kitchen and took the time to teach me how to make this time-honored family tradition called pizza chiena (pronounced 'pizza gain'.) With its flaky crust, pizza chiena is like a large empanada and is traditionally filled with ricotta, eggs, and cured ham. In this version, we subbed diced, sautéed mushrooms for the ham to make it vegetarian-friendly. This dish, which can be served hot or at room temperature, is traditionally served at Easter supper, but I think it would be great any time of the year.
Pizza Chiena Crust
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup oil (canola or olive)
1/2 cup ice water (it's likely that you won't need all of it, though)
Mix the first three ingredients and then add the oil. Add water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together. Cover dough ball in plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Pizza Chiena Filling
1.5 lbs. whole milk ricotta
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella
15 oz. white button mushrooms (large dice)
1 Not-Beef bouillon cube
salt & pepper
Sauté mushrooms in olive oil over high heat until they give up their liquid. Add bouillon cube and cook until browned. Set aside. Mix mushrooms and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
To assemble the pizza:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grab a lemon-sized piece of dough, and using a rolling pin, roll it out between two large sheets of plastic wrap until it is roughly 9-10 inches in diameter. Remove top piece of plastic wrap. Spoon about a cup of the filling onto half of the dough circle. Fold the dough and press edges with a fork. Transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of everything. Brush the top of each pastry with a beaten egg yolk. (This should make about six pizzas.) Cook for 30-45 minutes. You'll know they're done when they puff up and the edges are nice and brown.
(Everyone loved the meal, but of course, the most fun thing about this experience was talking and laughing in our crowded kitchen and then getting together with both our families to eat. We had about 14 people around the table, and we shared the food Mrs. Brame taught me how to make. It felt like a celebration because it was a celebration. We were celebrating moms and the food that nourishes not only our bodies, but our souls.)