The 1970s marked the Golden Age of Pizza in Chicago. Legends were born: Gino's. Lou's. Pequod's. And Nancy’s Pizza. Many folks might think they know the true history of stuffed pizza (and who invented it), but few realize that, in 1971, the founders of Nancy’s made the world’s first stuffed pizza.
Rocco and Nancy Palese were the first to come up with the idea when the patrons of their tavern style pizza place wanted them to jump on the burgeoning deep-dish pizza craze that had erupted in 1970s Chicago. A proud and independent Italian immigrant, Rocco resisted the call to imitate. Rocco instead developed a delightful dish that was inspired by deep-dish pizza, yet deliciously different: his invention was a thicker, cheesier pizza inspired by his mother’s Easter Pie. For the uninitiated, an Easter Pie is a tart packed with Italian meats and cheeses that are bound together with eggs and enclosed with a pastry top.
Check out this amazing recipe for Easter Pie (“Scarciedda”), the humble and often forgotten inspiration for Chicago’s original stuffed pizza. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invention of this culinary delight with Chicago’s real stuffed pizza – made the same way it was in 1971!
This delicious pie was filled with Italian meats and cheeses and surrounded with a buttery, flaky pastry. Our version includes a fresh ricotta & Pecorino Romano filling, mild Italian sausage, hot capicola, Volpi salami, imported prosciutto, provolone, and sautéed spinach with garlic. The ingredients are layered high between two sheets of pie dough, crimped around the edges, and baked until golden. It’s a labor of love that inspired the creation of the original Stuffed Pizza.
Scarciedda Easter Pie Recipe
Scarciedda Easter Pie Recipe
18 oz all-purpose flour
¾ tsp kosher salt
¾ lb unsalted butter, cold & cubed
¾ cup cold water
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb fresh spinach
¾ lb bulk mild Italian sausage
2 lbs part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 oz hot capicola, very thinly sliced
2 oz Volpi salami, very thinly sliced
2 oz imported prosciutto, very thinly sliced
2 oz provolone cheese, very thinly sliced
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
- Add the flour and salt to a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter. Process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Pour in the cold water and continue to process. Once the dough pulls away from the sides, it’s ready. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (it should be shaggy at this point).
- Roughly shape the dough into a ball. Use a knife to divide the dough into ¾ and ¼ portions. Shape each portion of dough into a round, flat disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350° Remove the larger portion of pie dough from the fridge and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin sheet, about ¼” thick.
- Transfer the dough to a 9” springform pan, gently pressing it into the corners and filling the pan across the bottom and up the sides. Fold the excess dough over the edge of the pan. Place the prepared pan of dough into the fridge while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the spinach, stirring for a minute or so until wilted. Transfer the spinach to a plate.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bulk sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break it into smaller pieces, cooking for about 3 minutes until browned. Set aside.
- Add the ricotta cheese, beaten eggs, pecorino romano cheese, parsley, salt, and black pepper to a large mixing bowl. Stir until incorporated.
- Remove the prepared pan from the fridge. Layer the pie as follows: ½ of the sausage, 1/3 of the ricotta filling, capicola, salami, ½ of the prosciutto, provolone, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, spinach, ½ of the sausage, ½ of the prosciutto, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture.
- Remove the smaller portion of pie dough from the fridge and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin sheet, about 1/8” thick. Lay the dough on top of the pie, with the excess hanging over the edge of the pan. Use a paring knife to trim both layers of dough so that they lay evenly right over the edge.
- Fold the bottom layer of dough over the top layer and press to secure. From there, crimp the edges. Cut 4 slits in the top of the dough to allow steam to escape. Whisk together the egg yolk and water. Brush this mixture onto the dough.
- Place the pie onto a sheet pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. Cover the pie with foil and continue to bake for 45 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°
- Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for at least 3 hours before serving. Remove the sides of the pan and cut the pie into slices. Alternatively, cool the pie completely and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. Heat the pie before serving.