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Pizza Chena
(Serves 10 to 12)
Pizza Chena, sometimes pronounced "Pizza Gaina," and also calle Pizza Rustica, 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 can use cubes or slices of meat and cheese.  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.

We also have another recipe for Pizza Chena that has a rich butter and egg dough (instead of the yeast dough in this recipe) and adds ricotta cheese to the filling ... here's the recipe.

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 or diced
1 pound provolone, sliced or diced
1/2 pound ham, sliced or diced
1/2 pound salami, sliced or diced
1/2 pound capocollo, sliced or diced
6 eggs
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.
Step by Step Photos of Making a Pizza Chena
1. Dough kneaded until smooth
2. Dough placed into a greased bowl
3. Dough risen until double in volume, about 1 hour
4. Ten-inch springform pan lined with half of the dough
5. Combining the eggs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper
6. Egg mixture combined with cubes of meat and cheese
7. Dough-lined pan filled with meat and cheese mixture
8. Other half of dough placed over the filling with edges rolled and crimped
9. Pizza Chena baked and cooling on a wire rack
10. Pizza Chena completely cooled and ready to be served
11.  The inside of a Pizza Chena
12.  A slice of Pizza Chena
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