Celebrating the End of Lent Italian Style: Glorious Pizza Chiena

Holidays are about families and traditions.  While telling my dear friend Julie recently that I would occasionally feature globally-inspired foods in guest posts on my blog, she immediately invited me into her Italian mother’s  kitchen on Good Friday to share in the making of Pizza Chiena, a dish I was unfamiliar with.  Pizza Chiena is a traditional Easter dish of Southern Italian families.  It is essentially a deep dish savory pie chockfull of cured meats, cheeses and eggs. There are as many recipes for it as there are Italian families.   This recipe has been in the Sasso-Bravacos family for 4 generations and was brought over by great grandmother Sasso when she immigrated to America in 1910 from Frigento Avellino, in the Campania region of Italy.

Pizza Chiena(Chena), often pronounced “Pizza Gaina”, is a dialect for Pizza Piena or “a very full pie”.  And full it is:  4 lbs of ricotta, 14 eggs and 3 lbs of cured meats!!!  It is a splurge for having gone without meat during Lent.  Because the dish is time-consuming to prepare  it is made on Good Friday and served cold for the Easter feast.  Julie’s family waits all year for the making of this signature family favorite.  Witnessing the joyful collaborative effort of 3 generations of family members  exchanging stories while they worked was a sight to behold. Continue reading