Pizza Chena, sometimes pronounced "Pizza Gaina," is a southern Italian savory "full pie" with a
variety of cheese, cold cuts, and eggs encased in a bread crust. It is traditionally made on Good
Friday to be eaten on Easter Sunday or to be taken on the traditional Pasquetta, or Easter Monday
picnic. It can be made in a 15 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish or in a 10-inch springform pan.
You may also use cubes of meat and cheese instead of slices. If desired, add some tomato
sauce on the side for dipping. See our step-by-step photos of the making of a Pizza Chena below.
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2-1/2 cups water (110-115 degrees F.), divided
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 pound mozzarella, sliced
1 pound provolone, sliced
1/2 pound ham, sliced
1/2 pound salami, sliced
1/2 pound capocollo, sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a bowl, combine the yeast with 1 cup of water. Let sit until foamy, about 7-8
minutes. Stir in the remaining water.
In another bowl, combine 5 cups of flour with salt. Add the yeast mixture and
1 teaspoon of olive oil. Mix to form a smooth dough. Turn onto a lightly floured
surface and knead until smooth, adding flour as necessary. Grease a large
bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until
double in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 15 x 13-inch baking dish or 10-inch round springform pan with the
remaining olive oil. Punch down the dough and divide into 2 pieces, one a little
larger than the other. Roll the larger piece into a rectangular or round shape
about 6-inches larger than the baking pan. Fit the piece of dough in the pan,
covering the bottom and sides with a slight overhang. Fill the baking pan with
alternating layers of the sliced meat and cheese. You should have at least 10
layers. (See note below)
In a bowl, combine the eggs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.
Pour over the layers in the baking pan.
Roll out the remaining piece of dough slightly larger than the pan. Place the
dough over the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal and roll the seam
under itself. Brush the top with the egg wash. Bake 35-40 minutes or until
golden brown. Remove form the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into
squares or wedges to serve.
*Pizza Chena will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.
It is best served at room temperature.
If you are using cubes of meat and cheese instead of slices, combine the 6
eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in
the cubes of meat and cheese to combine and then pour the mixture into the
dough-lined pan. Place the top layer of dough over the filling and proceed in the
same manner as above.