Tuesdays with Dorie: Pizza Rustica

“I thought you said we were having pizza.”  My husband cast a rather dubious look at his plate.

“It is.  It’s Pizza Rustica.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m not sure.  I think it’s kind of like an Italian quiche.”

“Hmmm.”  He sniffed at his fork.  Took a bite.  And eventually went back for seconds.

That’s all you need to know.

For any history buffs out there, Pizza Rustica (sometimes also called Easter pie) is a savory Italian pie typically served at, you guessed it, Easter.  If you’re not into history, it’s a sweet pie dough filled with a mixture of cured meats, cheese, cheese and more cheese.  Oh, and there are a couple of eggs holding all that cheesy goodness together.

All I can say is, if you’re going to break your Lenten fast, this is the way to do it.  I found some recipes that call for up to six different types of cheese and almost as many cured meats to be added to the mix.  I guess this is the reason Italy was the “Eat” portion of Eat, Pray, Love.

The most surprising thing about this dish is the sweetness of the dough.  As my husband remarked, it’s like eating “scrambled eggs wrapped inside a sugar cookie.”  Don’t let that description put you off.   The taste experience is a little like drinking a nuanced glass of wine.  The first thing you notice is the light flavor of the ricotta.  Then the proscuitto leaps out to provide a wonderful salty depth.  And as you finish the bite, you’re left with the sweet finish from the dough.  (Alright, pretentious metaphor over.)

Like the Irish Soda Bread recipe I’m kind of amazed at how good this was for only using a few simple ingredients. I was worried it would  be a bit bland because of the lack of herbs or seasonings, but didn’t find that to be the case at all.  Of course, when you’ve got that much cheese, how can you really go wrong?

If you’re looking for something a little different this Easter, try this.  It would be a delightful addition for brunch.  With that nice glass of wine, of course.  🙂

Thanks to Emily at Capitol Region Dining and Raelynn at The Place They Call Home for hosting this week.  You can check out their blogs for more details on the recipe.

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Pork Carnitas

I’ve given up on trying to figure out the weather this winter.  For every few days of perfect chilly (I get to wear my cute new boots!) winter weather we’ve had there have been an equal number of bright sunny days in the 80’s.  My menu-planning is feeling a bit bi-polar.  And always in the wrong direction.  The week I stock the refrigerator with ingredients for soups and stews is when I wake up to warm sunshine.  And, of course, when the temperature finally drops enough to turn the fireplace on, the fridge is stocked with salad ingredients.

The perfect solution – pork carnitas.  On the one hand, they’re hearty and delicious enough to warm you up on a chilly day.  But pair them with a margarita and it instantly feels like summer.

This recipe, originally from The Homesick Texan, makes some of the best carnitas I’ve ever had.  Crunchy and perfectly carmelized on the outside.  Moist and falling apart on the inside.  It’s everything pork should be.

So, no matter the weather, cook yourself up a big pot of love and enjoy.  And, if it’s nice outside, open all the windows and make the neighbors jealous.

Pork Carnitas
Adapted (barely), from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from The Homesick Texan Cookbook

Ingredients

3 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

For Serving
Tortillas
Sliced avocado
Chopped cilantro
Salsa

Directions
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine the cubed pork, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt.  Add enough water to barely cover the meat.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered, for two hours.

After simmering, increase  heat to medium-high.  Stir and turn pork occasionally and cook for approx. 45 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat.  (Mine took about 35 minutes, so watch it closely towards the end.)

Sizzle pork in the fat just long enough to brown at the edges.  Turn pork gently (the meat will be ready to fall apart) and brown on both sides.

Resist the urge to eat an entire serving while standing in front of the stove.

Serve carnitas on warm tortillas with toppings of your choice.