Pizza Chena

Pizza Chena, sometimes pronounced “Pizza Gaina,” is a southern Italian savory “pie” made with a variety of cheese, cold cuts, and eggs baked within a bread crust. There are many different recipes for this traditional Italian specialty, but this is the one I prefer. You can play around with the fillings as you see fit and use your own favorite cold cuts or cheeses, or even add some grilled vegetables if you like, though vegetables are not traditionally used.

This tasty pie is traditionally made on Good Friday to be eaten on Easter Sunday or to be taken on the traditional Pasquetta, or Easter Monday picnic and is made to celebrate the end of lent. The pie can be made in a 15 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish or in a 10-inch springform pan, and though I prefer it served at room temperature on it’s own, you could offer some tomato sauce on the side for dipping also. I used sliced meat and cheese, but you could also use cubes of meat and cheese instead of the slices. If you want to simplify things even more, you could even buy pre-made pizza dough in place of making your own. I hadn’t made this Easter specialty for years, and after making it this year I remembered how delicious it really is and I plan on making it through the summer to pack for picnics. Pizza Chena travels great, and a good sized slice is a complete meal!

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2012

Pizza Chena

Yield: Serves 6 - 8

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

A Neapolitan dish often made for Easter.

Ingredients:

Dough:
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
5 to 6 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
Filling:
3/4 Pound Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
1 1/2 Pounds Sliced Cold Cuts Of Choice - Choose Three Varieties (I used Soppressata, pepperoni, and ham)
1/2 Pound Sliced Cheese (I used Provolone, but Swiss, Gruyere, or Asiago all work well)
2 Roasted Red Peppers Cut Into Strips
6 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Egg Wash:
1 Egg Beaten With 1 Teaspoon Water

Directions:

In a large bowl mix the yeast and1 cup of water and let sit until bubbly.
Add the remaining water and mix.
Place 5 cups of the flour into a mound on a counter with the salt, and make a well in the center.
Add the water and yeast mixture into the well along with 1 teaspoon of oil and mix with a fork until a sticky dough forms.
Knead by hand until the dough is smooth, adding additional flour as needed.
Lightly oil a large bowl with the remaining oil and place the dough in the bowl turning it to lightly cover with oil to prevent sticking.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly oil a 10 inch tart pan with removable bottom, or a 10 inch spring-form pan.
Divide the dough in half, and roll out one ball to a circle at least two inches wider than your pan.
Fit the dough into the pan, pulling up along the sides.
Layer the sliced meats, cheeses, and red pepper in the pan.
In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt & pepper, then pour this over the meats and cheeses.
Roll out the other half of the dough, then use it to cover the pie, sealing the edges by pinching the bottom and top pieces together, cutting off any excess.
Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash, then bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Cool, remove from the baking pan and serve in slices.

Adapted from Ciao Italia recipe by Mary Ann Esposito. Published in Celebrations Italian Style.



 

18 Responses to “Pizza Chena”

  1. 1
    Anna @ the shady pine — April 10, 2012 @ 6:00 am

    How delicious this looks! What a wonderful Easter treat!

    [Reply]

  2. 2
    domenicacooks — April 10, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

    Hi Deborah,
    I love all these Italian Easter traditions! At our house we call it Pizza Rustica. My theory is that the term ‘pizza chena’ refers to the other name by which it is known, pizza ripiena. In southern Italy, the word ‘ripiena’ (stuffed) is ‘chiena’ in slang; hence ‘pizza chena’ and ‘pizza gaina’ ~ stuffed pizza!

    I hope you had a delicious Easter. Cheers,
    Domenica

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Domenica, I agree, I think Pizza Rustica probably is a better name for this dish since it is so popular in so many variations. Thanks so much for your input, MUCH appreciated!!!!

    We had a great though quiet Easter. Hope your Easter was wonderful too!

    [Reply]

  3. 3
    Andilynn — April 11, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    When I saw this, I thought that looks exactly like the one that I make. LOL…then I saw at the bottom of your recipe that it was adapted from Mary Ann Esposito’s book. Same place I got my recipe! I’m sorry to say that I didn’t make it this year for Easter. I think I will be making one soon now that your picture has me hungry for it! Thanks Deborah!

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  4. 4
    Tracy A. — April 11, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    No question, my husband would love this!

    [Reply]

  5. 5
    Giacomo Calabrese — April 12, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    I enjoy all your recipes Deb. Everyone goes crazy over the ricotta cheese cookies with the lemon drop topping.

    Giacomo Calabrese
    Henderson NV 89074
    burnout777@cox.net

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Thanks Giacomo, much appreciated!

    [Reply]

  6. 6
    Fabio — April 12, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Hi Deborah,years ago I ate a pizza in nitalian (of course)pizzeria at Flushing,New York,that they called it Sacciata.It was made in two layers,the first one was covered by sicilian cheeses (Tuma),anchovies,different type of sausages and tomato sauce.The scond layerbrushed with eggs civered the whole piza.The owner of the place told me that this type of pizza in Sicilia is caled Scacciata.To me that Pizza has been tyhe best till I have seen this recipe which I’ll made today because all of Deborah’s recipes are DELICIOUS!!!.Best regards from Miami.

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  7. 7
    Elma Imbrenda — April 12, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    Looks terrific. My Mother, who came from Oliveto Citra, Prov. of Salerno, made an Easter Pizza that used ricotta, italian sausage, romano cheese, (and sometimes cubed mozzarella), eggs, salt and pepper. The dough is made in a rectangular sheet pan and treated like a large calzone. Absolutely delicious. The family has continued the tradition of making this for Easter Sunday brunch. Love your website.

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  8. 8
    Nenad — April 14, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    So tempting, I gonna bookmark this page on my girlfriend’s laptop and hope she’ll get the point :)

    [Reply]

  9. 9
    Roseann Palladino — April 15, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    In Calabria Italy this baked bread with Italian cold cuts is called Embreilatha Its made with 3 Italian cold cuts alternated with 3 cheeses and egg washed between layers. Topped with another layer of bread dough and egg wash and baked. It is also for Easter celebration.

    [Reply]

  10. 10
    Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet — April 20, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

    Oh my, this looks incredible! My family would LOVE it!

    [Reply]

  11. 11
    We Are Never Full — May 2, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    WOW. Easter is over but I’m thinking this would be amazing for Mother’s Day brunch. Looks so good.

    [Reply]

  12. 12
    Monica — November 8, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    My grandfather’s family came from Naples and he passed the Easter Pizza tradition on to us and my cousins and I all make it. We use tuma cheese (only found in Italian delis) and bacon and salami! We also make a small dough cross that goes on the top.

    [Reply]

  13. 13
    Tina — December 2, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    Hi Deborah, this looks lovely and I’m going to try making this, but first a question. What type of pan did you use? The recipe says a rectangular pan or a spring-form. I googled “fluted spring-form” but only see ones with the fluting on the bottom, which would show as fluting on the top crust. You’ve got fluting all around the sides. Could you provide instructions on how you improvised another pan or provide a link please to your pan type. Thanks for the inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    I used a fluted deep dish tart pan in the photos.

    [Reply]

  14. 14
    Leila — January 27, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    Hi, I desire to subscribe for this webpage to take most recent updates, thus
    where can i do it please help.

    [Reply]

  15. 15
    Joe — March 25, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    Hi – I made my pizza chiena today. I use a pizza dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that really works well. Our family uses mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese and basket cheese. Unfortunately, I no longer live in the northeast and basket cheese isn’t available so I use Panela, which is basically a Mexican version of basket cheese. We only use prosciutto and pepperoni for our meats, thinly sliced. Then we make nine layers of meat and cheese. I’m not sure if the number 9 holds any significance.

    Love your website.

    [Reply]

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