“You don’t do it by pictures,” my grandma said as I snapped a few photos “you do it by feel.”
“Well I can’t exactly tell my readers on the internet to feel it, grandma.”
“Wait. You’re putting our secret family recipe on the internet?” asked my mom up to the elbows in the dough.
“Why not? Mum are you planning to let the recipe die with you?”
This was the conversation that we had a few days ago while making traditional Italian Easter pies. My grandma doesn’t remember when the family started making them but she said that she started making them in the 70s. This is one of those dishes, that everyone’s family used to make and they would trade them because everyone else’s tasted better and it was an honor for people to like yours best. Our family still makes them every year. We still sample pies from other parts of the family but it’s not the big deal that it used to be.
This time, my mom brought her recipe to my grandma’s, my grandma had the recipe she always used and we recently acquired my great-grandma’s recipe through my mom’s cousin. This year, my mom used that recipe instead of the one she normally used. The “original” family recipe was highly coveted due to a change in the recipe a great many years ago that allowed the baker to use Crisco instead of the old-fashioned, traditional lard.
We were about half way through making the filling before my mom said:
“Wait. This one says 6 hardboiled eggs and 4 raw eggs and my recipe says 4 hardboiled eggs and 6 raw ones.” This was the first of many discrepancies that included differences in cooking times, glazes and oven temperature. So my mother took her recipe, which she received from my grandma when she got married and compared it to my grandmother’s thinking hers had some error. They weren’t the same.
“But this is what you gave me when I got married!” my mother said.
My grandmother took her copy and showed my mother all of the changes to the recipe that occurred in all of the years she cooked them. By some brilliant notion, my grandmother dated all of the changes she made to the recipe and had comments.
So my mother’s was more like the recipe my grandmother made in the 70s and my great-grandmother’s recipe was close enough but still different. What is strange enough is that they all taste similarly enough that no one would be able to tell the difference.
So I’m sharing the secret family recipe. Why?
Because it’s not a recipe at all. It’s a bunch of different ones or it’s so secret, even we don’t know it.
Either way, I’m a fan of sharing recipes and I’d like to bring this one back as our family makes them differently than a lot of other families. Many other families make them with meat slices and make them in a pie pan with two crusts.
Secret Family Recipe:
- 7 Pounds Flour
-1/2 Cup Lard
-3/4 cup Sugar
6 Tbsp. Baking Powder
- 5-6 Cups lukewarm water (add 4 cups first then add what is needed to make a dough)
Cut up Lard into small pieces. Add large to Flour, Sugar, and Baking Powder in a large pan or bowl. Create a “well” in the center of the mixture. Add eggs into the well and mix together with hands. Add water as needed.
Remove dough from bowl and kneed on a floured surface. Put back in pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let it “rest” for 1-2 hours, it will become smooth.
- 5 lbs. Ham, cubed
- ½ lb. Salami, cubed
- 1 ½ lbs Ricotta Cheese
- 3 “handfuls” grated Parmesan Cheese
- 6 Hardboiled Eggs, chopped
- 4 Raw Eggs
- Heavy Pepper to taste
Roll out large circle of dough, roughly 1 pound, on a floured surface. Fill half of the dough with filling. Fold the dough over. Trim excess dough edges so that the pie is symmetrical. Make ¾ inch slices around the unsealed edge. Alternating turning each dough “tab” over or under and press down with a fork to seal. Poke a few holes in the top for steam to come out.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake on a lightly floured baking sheet for 25 minutes on the bottom rack and 10 minutes on the middle rack. While still hot, you can coat the tops with raw egg, or milk if you plan to freeze the pies. Let cool on a wire rack.
Have a good weekend everyone! If you get adventurous and want to try these, they were traditionally a hearty treat after abstaining during lent.