Tag Archives: Lamb pies

SCACCE and PIZZA and SICILIAN EASTER

It always seems a time for scacce in Sicily, but particularly at Easter.

I  have  already written about scacce (focaccia-like stuffed pastries) and for suggestions of fillings and the recipe and ways to fold the pastry, see the post called: Scacce (Focaccia-like Stuffed Bread).

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One of the most difficult things if you are a novice at making the traditional shaped scacce is the folding of the pastry. So, why not try just forming them into these shapes below instead. Use the same fillings and pastry as described in the post Scacce ( Focaccia- like Stuffed Bread) above.

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This scaccia (singular of scacce and not a misspelling) in the photo below is round and pie shaped. The filling is made from lamb and ricotta.

The braised greens on the side could also be used in a filling – spinach or chicory or broccoli- softened/ wilted and then sautéed in garlic, chili and extra virgin olive oil (but drain well).

There is a post for impanate with a lamb filling – a typical dish for Easter.

(link)‘Mpanata (A Lamb Pie, an Easter Treat)

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The photos for these scacce (and pizza) are from a small eatery in Catania. The filling is made from slices of fried eggplant, a little bit of tomato salsa and a little bit of caciocavallo ( Sicilian cheese) –  you could try provolone (cheese) instead.

Or you could try small pasty shapes as in the photo below (circle of dough = filling  on one side= fold over to make a half moon). The pastries in the photo below are  cooling on the racks in Dolcetti pasticceria (pastry shop  in Victoria Street Melbourne). Marianna is the pastry chef and her mum is Lidia –  and she is all Sicilian. Lidia visits Dolcetti  each Saturday to make these pastries. She calls her pastries impanate.  They are fabulous and she uses a variety of fillings.

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 What about just a pizza ….. These pizzas (in the photo below) are  from Pizza D’Asporto (Rifle Range Shopping Centre, Williamstown). They are made by Sicilians and are very good – worth a visit.

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Or what about a Sfincione?

(link) Sfincione di Palermo (a pizza/focaccia type pie)

There are other Easter type recipes on my blog….just key in Easter or Pasqua in the search space.

Go for it! Buona Pasqua!

‘MPANATA (A lamb pie, Easter treat)

Having relatives in Ragusa who celebrate Easter in a big way, I am very familiar with the ‘mpanata ri agnieddu – a focaccia type pie made with very young lamb (unfortunately) complete with bones and enveloped with a bread dough crust. This is the traditional specialty for the Easter Sunday lunch in Ragusa and it is not the type of pie where you discard the pastry – the flavourful juices from the meat and herbs soak into the bottom crust and are appreciated as much as the filling. My relatives make large round pies, but as you can see in the photo above, individual sized  pastries could be made as well, but these are not as traditional.

Sicilian food like Italian food is regional so ‘mpanata ri agnieddu may not be eaten in other parts of Sicily.
Circular floral bowl with handles

The word ‘mpanata (impanata in Italian) appears in a Sicilian lexicon in 1785 and is highly likely to have come from the Spanish word empanada, a derivative from the word empanar which means to wrap or coat with bread the semi-circular stuffed pastries common in the Spanish speaking countries and in Spain.

Although it is commonly accepted that empanadas are a Spanish innovation it is possible that ‘mpanate may also have been adaptations of the breads of ancient civilizations in Sicily. The Greeks were renowned for their breads. The Romans continued this tradition and over time the breads in Sicily were enriched with flavours and fillings. There are many names for these, for example the ‘nfigghiulata, fuazza, pastizzu, ravazzata, scacciata, scacce and sfinciuni.

You will not believe just how simple the Easter ‘impanata is to make.

INGREDIENTS

The filling

You will need 1.5- 2 kilos of cubed, lean lamb (from the shoulder or leg). The lamb the Ragusani use is very young and they include some of the bones, chopped into smallish pieces. As we all know bones add flavour, but I do not recommend you do this unless you  tell your guests to be careful of the bones.
To the meat add, parsley, chopped garlic, salt and black pepper and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Leave this to steep overnight.

The bread dough
flour, plain (durum wheat), 900g
yeast, 50gr (fresh) or dried yeast, follow instructions on packet
warm water, ½ cup
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
salt to taste
PROCESSES
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and add to the flour. Mix into a dough, adding a little water until you get a firm consistency.
Sprinkle with some flour and leave under a tea towel to rise for about 1 hour.
After the dough has risen, add a little olive oil and knead again until the oil is totally absorbed. Traditionally, the Ragusani add lard – you choose.

 

Heat the oven 200 C

Roll out the dough to 1.5 cm thick. There will be two discs of dough to cover the filling. Make one slightly larger than the other – the biggest one will go on the bottom. You can use a large pie plate or just place it into a well-oiled baking pan so that if any juices escape they will be contained.
Add the meat in one single layer in the centre of the dough.
Cover the filling with the smaller disk of dough, moisten around the edges with water and seal the crusts (first fold the dough around the border and then pinch together). Make a couple of slits on top.
Brush with a little olive oil or with a little beaten egg.
Bake for about 1½ hours until the crust is golden.
After about 40 minutes, cover the pie with foil to keep it from burning.

 

Let the pie rest for 1 hour before eating to allow the meat juices to be absorbed by the bread dough on the bottom layer. For some, this is supposed to be the most memorable part of the pie.

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