Every recipe from my childhood revolves around my family’s Umbrian Traditions. Historically it is said that our ancestors, the Etruscans, were great gourmands. They left us with such a rich repertoire of recipes that have become stapes of the Umbrian cuisine during the centuries.
Etruscans were accomplished wine and cheese makers as well. They discovered that the abundant Umbrian spring water could be used also as a leavening agent.
Pigs were farm animals small enough that could be tended by children. As a result, most of our traditional recipes include all 3 elements: a starch, pork, and a cheese.
RECIPE IN Italian here: https://blog.giallozafferano.it/growingupitalian/crostata-del-pastore-antica-ricetta/
The Crostata del Pastore is no exception. A spring water dough, a filling made of simple ingredients such as Ricotta, Ham and Pecorino.
If you feel like being an overachievers, you are welcome to make a more intricated pattern, otherwise a simple out will do the trick.
This recipe is great for the holidays, can be baked the day before and re heated at time of service, or served at room temperature.
CROSTATA DEL PASTORE
makes an 8″ pie. Serves 8 to 10
INGREDIENTS for the dough
250 g AP flour
100 ml of cold sparkling water such as Ferrarelle, San Pellegrino.
4 Tbs of Extra Vergin Olive Oil
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of salt (depending on your application. If you also use this recipe for a sweet ricotta filling add up to 1Tbs of sugar)
Minced Herbs (optional) for the dough
300 g Ricotta cheese (full fat)
100 g chopped ham off the bone, or prosciutto or mortadella
80 g of grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
Nutmeg to taste (optional)
1/2 Lemon Zest grated
Egg wash for baking: 1 egg, 1 t water a pinch of salt, mixed well.
NOTE: Before adding the Egg, taste the filling mix. It will be easier to adjust the salt and spices. Keep in mind that once cooked, the flavors will be enhanced. Also, salt can be added at service, but can never be removed.
For the filling:
Place the meat(s) in a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop. (or chop by hands). Mix the ricotta with the egg, spices and Parmesan. Add the meats and gently mix to keep the filling from being too paste-y and mushy. Keep it airy but somewhat creamy. Set aside.
For the dough:
In a large bowl: place the flour, salt, sugar, herbs if using and mix to incorporate.
Yes, you noticed the dough doesn’t have yeast. It’s correct. It will be perfect nevertheless. Alternatively you could use a regular pie dough, even store-bought. I won’t tell, if you don’t B-)
Once the flour has been mixed, make a well with the flour and add the oil. Mix gently to incorporate while adding the water. Use your hands, will be easier to get a feel in case you need more water. The dough should be soft and not sticky.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered. Meanwhile pre heat oven to 350F
Divide the dough in half (one slightly bigger then the other but not much)
Roll the dough out. It will be fairly easy since the dough won’t break easily, and stretches easily.
I like my dough fairly thin, about 1/8″ but there are no rules.
Oil and dust with breadcrumbs the 8″ non stick pan. Cover the bottom with the dough, letting it overhand from the rim.
Fill the dough with the Ricotta mix, and lightly level it with an offset spatula.
Roll out the remaining dough and cut strips about 1″ wide.
Arrange the strips in a grid pattern and brush with egg wash. Now if you have leftovers, use them to decorate the rim . You could use a cookie cutter or free style.
Brush again with egg wash . Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, making sure the bottom of the pie is golden as well.