Pastiera from Naples
A centuries old dish in many versions, each made according to a closely guarded family recipe.
This recipe takes time to prepare and requires presoaked grain. (Neapolitan deli’s now sell canned presoaked grain) But if you are starting from scratch–
Purchase 1/2 pound whole grain and soak it in cold water for TWO WEEKS, changing the water every two days , ( another cookbook suggests three days, changing water daily). Come cooking time, drain it and cook the amount indicated. The pastiera is traditionally served in a 10-inch diameter round metal pan with a two-inch rim; Neapolitan pastry shops sell pastiera in the pan, and it is served so.
The Pie Crust:
1 pound flour
1/2 pound lard (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound well-drained soaked grain
1 1/2 cups milk
The zest of half an orange
A walnut-sized piece of lard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 packett vanillin (a teaspoon vanilla extract)
10 ounces FRESH Ricotta
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 vial (1/4 cup) acqua di fiori d’arancio–if using orange extract, to taste, but I think less
a pinch powdered cinnamon
1/4 cup minced citron
1/4 cup minced candied orange peel
1/4 cup candied squash (cocozzata, in Neapolitan)
Directions for Pastiera:
Begin the day ahead by cooking the soaked grain with the milk, zest, lard, sugar and vanilla over an extremely low flame for at least four hours, or until the grains come apart and the milk has been absorbed, so that the mixture is dense and creamy.
The next morning make the pie crust: Make a mound of flour, scoop a well in the middle, and fill it with the lard, sugar and yolks. Use a fork or pastry cutter to combine the ingredients, handling the dough as little as possible (don’t knead it). Once you have obtained a uniform dough mass, press it into a ball and cover it with a damp cloth.
Pass the ricotta through a strainer into a large bowl, stir in the 3/4 cup sugar, and continue stirring for 5-6 minutes. Next, stir in the yolks, one at a time, and the grain. Next add the orange water;begin with half the amount and taste. Add more if you would like it orangier, keeping in mind that the aroma will fade some in baking. Stir in the cinnamon, and the candied fruit as well, then whip the whites to soft peaks and fold them in.
Roll out 2/3 of the pastry dough, on a pastry cloth, and line the pan. Fill it with the filling. Next, roll out the remaining dough and cut it into strips, which you will want to lay across the filling in a diagonal pattern. Bake in a moderately hot preheated 370 F oven for an hour or slightly more. The filling should dry almost completely and firm up, while the pie crust should brown slightly.
Here the pastiera photo
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