Easter has a rich culinary tradition beyond the ubiquitous lamb cake, chocolate bunnies, and Cadbury Eggs.
I grew up in something akin to an Italian compound. I lived with my grandparents on what was former farmland that belonged to my great grandfather. Each time one of his six children got married, a piece of land was subdivided and a home was built on that parcel. By the time I arrived, two generations later, the family community was well established, and I grew up surrounded, literally, by family.
During the holidays, like Palm Sunday and Easter, specialty foods from different aunts and uncles were always appearing. By Palm Sunday, our kitchen counter was inundated with Easter Breads and Easter Pies.
There were several varieties of Easter Pies, and each Aunt seemed to have her own specialty. My favorite was my grandmother’s Ricotta Pie. But Grandma’s favorite Easter Pie was Aunt Betty’s Wheat Pie. Then, there was another pork filled pie that was definitely not dessert and was only eaten on Holy Saturday, after 12:00 p.m. It was called the Meat Pie.
Admittedly, this tradition does not exist in my neighborhood, and I do miss it. But alas, there is hope, and its name is The Pie Store, 100 Watchung Avenue, Montclair. Owner, Samantha Codling, and her crew are creating Ricotta Pies and Meat Pies that are as good, dare I say better, than Grandma’s.
Easter is the third busiest holiday at The Pie Store. This season, Samantha is featuring a Ricotta Pie with caramelized fresh pineapple and dark rum that is nothing short of ethereal. Two sizes are available, small $8.95, and $22.95. My advice—just get the large, it’s that good!
Also available at The Pie Store are Italian Meat Pies (Pizza Rustica), that are, in a word—divine! The large meat pie is 3.5 pounds of flaky, moist, savory satisfaction. The Pie Store is incorporating high quality meats into these pies such as Genoa Salami, Pepperoni, Prosciutto Di Parma, capicola, and ham. (Small $18.95, Larger $35.95.)
Want to take a peek inside The Pie Store, click here.
I’ve been able to salvage the handwritten (albeit in very poor English) recipes to these pies. I love making these pies, and if you’re a brave soul and want to give it a try, here’s our family recipe for traditional meat pie:
Ingredients: Yield Three Pies
For The Filling:
7 large eggs
3 cups grated cheese (pecorino)
3 lbs Ricotta
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 fresh cheese basket
½ pound provolone
Small package mozzarella
½ pork tenderloin
1 thick slice smoked ham
10 Hard-boiled eggs
For The Crust:
3 lbs of flour
3 Tbls baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper
Dash of paprika for color
4 large eggs
½ Cup Crisco
Approximately 10 Tbls water (*reserved, see below)
Begin by combining the meat in a large pot. Cover with water and simmer for one hour. Remove meats from water, allow to cool, and reserve water. Chop meats into bite size pieces.
Prepare hard-boiled eggs.
Prepare the crust. Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl first. Incorporate eggs, then Crisco. Finally add the 10 tablespoons of water retained from the boiling meat slowly until dough comes together.
Mix the cheeses together and slowly fold in meats.
Pour cheese mixture into pie plate and layer quartered barb-boiled eggs on the top.
Top pie with crust and puncture with fork. Paint with egg wash and bake until golden.
Want more Easter Pie recipes? Visit here.
Have you ever had a meat pie? Let us know about your favorite traditional Easter dessert.