In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...
An Evening of Infiorata!

Time to bust out the Lard!

The following recipes are not for the weak of heart.  If you use butter, you are a wimp.  If you use some type of "fat subsitute", you are a heretic.  These recipes use lard, baby - pure piggy goodness!

Well, it is Easter time once again in Italy.  Lent is coming to a close.   Bottles of a special wine, Vernaccia, are being left on doorsteps by friendly neighbors, and lard, put on the back shelf for the Lenten fast, is once again making an appearance!

Vernaccia!

(Vernaccia is the typical sweet wine drunk on Easter morning, a specialty of Cannara!)

Here in Umbria we make the traditional Pizza (or Torta) di Pasqua, a fantastic cheesebread, described in depth here by my good friend Rebecca of Brigolante.  Having just returned from Verona with an inordinate amount of candied citrus, and looking for a way to use them up, I came across some recipes for the Pastiera Napoletana - a traditional dessert made in southern Italy for Easter.  I still remember the first time I ate the Pastiera... I was entering my 9th month of pregnancy and a woman from Naples who was helping me clean my house gave me a piece that her sister had made.... to say something as cliché as love at first bite just doesn't do this dish justice... it's better than chocolate... it's better than EVERYTHING! .... and why is it better than everything??? Because it is made with LARD!

arance e cedro candite

Here are my adapted lardy recipes:

Pizza di Pasqua:

  • 230g natural bread starter
  • 8g brewer's yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100g warm water
  • 300g '00' flour
  • 500g '0' flour + 100g for dusting
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g grated pecorino romano
  • 150g grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 50g lard
  • 5 Tbs e.v. olive oil
  • 200g diced sharp provolone

In a large bowl, dissolve the starter, yeast, and sugar in the water.   Slowly add the flours, little by little, alternating with the eggs.  Mix well.  Add the grated cheeses, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add the lard and olive oil.  Knead well for about 10 minutes.   Add the diced provolone and knead until well mixed.  Divide the dough into two equal parts and form into balls, folding the dough over itself.  Place each ball into a deep baking tin that has been greased (with lard) and floured. 

pizza di Paqua dough

Let rise for about 6 hours or until dough has reached the top of the tin.  Bake in the oven at 200°C for 2o minutes, then 180°C for another 40 minutes.  The Tortas are ready when a test stick comes out clean.

IMG_2808.JPGPizza di Pasqua

 

La Pastiera

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 500g flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g lard
  • 8g instant yeast (baking powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • grated zest of one lemon

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 300g cooked wheat berries
  • 400ml milk
  • 1 Tbs lard
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 400g sheeps milk ricotta
  • 200g sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3 whites, beat to stiff peaks
  • 5 tsp orange flower water
  • 150g candied citron and orange, diced small
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • dash of cinammon
  • powdered sugar for dusting

The night before:  make the crust by combing all ingredients and chilling overnight - this will be a fairly wet dough.  Meanwhile, over a low flame, cook down the wheat berries with the milk, lard, and sugar until almost "dry", a pasty consistency.  Let cool in refrigerator overnight.

Ingredients for the Pastiera

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta with the sugar until creamy.  Add the yolks, orange flower water, candied fruit, lemon zest, cinammon, and wheat berry mixture.  Mix well.  Gently fold in egg whites.  Roll out the dough for the crust to about 3mm and place in a deep baking dish (or cheesecake pan) greased with lard and floured.  Save extra dough to make "ribbons."  Gently pour the filling into the crust.  Make crosshatches with remaing dough.  Bake for about 2 hours at 150°C.  Let cool in oven with door open.  Traditionally, this dish is made on Holy Thursday and not eaten until Easter Sunday.  The pie must sit for 3 days before it can be eaten so that the flavors can amalgamate (sheer torture).  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

BUONA PASQUA!

La Pastiera

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