Friday, April 4, 2014

NJ Italian Easter Pie

Where I grew up in NJ, my friends' moms always made an Easter pie this time of year.

"Pizza Gane" was what it was called. I never asked questions, I just happily ate it!

It was a delicious meat pie, stuffed with good quality salami, mortadella, capicola, mozzarella, basket cheese, the works.

Some people call it a Pizza Rustica.
I have made it many times over the years and love it. Everyone's mother and grandmother made a different recipe.

Over the years, I tried to decipher what the Italian word "GAIN or GANE" meant, and couldn't find anything in my Italian language books (except I can guarantee you will "gain" weight from eating too much of it!).

Finally, I found out it was Southern Italian dialect for pizza CHENA (pizza Kay-Na)! A Neapolitan word meaning "full pie".
(I also thought that calamari was called "GALAMAD" for 20 years).

Here is Susan's Grandmother's recipe, and Italian Food Forever's recipe. My mouth waters whenever I look at the photos.

The other moms made a version of Easter pie that was sweet, for dessert.
No meat, no cold cuts, no basket cheese, just a ricotta filling with chocolate, candied orange or citron and a pasta frolla (crust).

This is a good basic recipe, it's delicious and the perfect Easter dessert, whether you are Italian or not!

Easter Pie (sweet version):

Pie Crust:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold diced butter
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp baking powder (a pinch)

Ricotta Filling:
16 oz container ricotta cheese (2 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
1-2 tbsp of candied orange (optional)
4 eggs
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Make the crust. In a food processor, dump in all the ingredients, including the eggs.
Whiz for a minute or two until a nice ball of dough appears.

Dump out on a cutting board and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Take out of the fridge and roll out the dough on the plastic wrap (so it doesn't stick to the cutting board) into a 10" circle.

Using the plastic wrap as a delivery method, turn the dough upside down into a 9" pie dish or 9" fluted deep dish tart pan with removable bottom.
Press dough into the sides of the pans to make a nice even fit. Put back in the fridge while you make the filling.

Mix the ricotta w/ the zest, eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, and gradually mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Pour into your prepared pie crust and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.



Ciao Chow Linda said...

Delizioso is right. I love the addition of chocolate and candied orange peel in this pie - but pizza "chena"? I know it could be some sort of dialect, but I think even the dialect words got bastardized over the decades by Italian Americans. It most likely comes from the word "piena" (rhymes with chena) which means "full" in Italian. Something very similar to this is likely to be on my Easter tavola.

AG said...

I never knew it was pizza "chena" mom always made a PIZZA GANE! A meat pie that was to die for!

Your REGOT pie looks fabulous! You are an honorary Italian for sure Stacy!

This is the first time commenting here.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Love this Stacey, we make our sweet ricotta pie the same way, Tony goes nuts over it, his favorite! I like the look of yours in the fluted tart pan, I shall try that this year! xox

saphiresunset said...

I grew up with Easter Pie. My mom used the citron and not just the orange, but I made this last year, and loved just the orange. I thought pizza chena is the pie with the eggs, ham, salamis, etc...full pie.

Stacey Snacks said...


Yes, if you read the post, the pizza chena is the meat stuffed pie.
I made the sweet version of Easter pie.

I love them both!


Anonymous said...

I guess we have our own language in Jersey!
My grandmother was from Brooklyn and she said "pizza gain". We also say 'manigawt", gavadeal" and "reegot".

As long as we understand eachother, it's all good!
Oh yeah, and it is always GALAMAD!

:) Jackie

joan nova said...

It has always been my understanding that 'pizza gane' was the sweet pie made with wheat grains and some of the ingredients you noted. 'gane' 'grane' being a derivative of grains.

And pizza rustica is the one with the meat and cheeses.

I look forward to them both on Easter. We start with the rustica, then have Easter dinner, and end with wheat pie.

Stacey Snacks said...

So many different theories and translations! I give up. But I love them all

Stacey Snacks said...

Joan, my friend from Italy said that the ricotta wheat grain pie is called "Pastiera Grano", also served at Easter.

Ok, something else to know!

AdriBarr said...

Beautiful. I just love these kinds of celebration foods. They summon up an absolute flood of wonderful memories. Buona Pasqua to you and yours!