A delicious Herb Sandwich from Parma

Post_Image_Babbo Erbazzone 04

This is a classic dish of Parma, yet I have never seen it anywhere else. The most traditional stuffed pasta there is filled with nearly the same cast as the erbazzone, with the addition of ricotta and omission of pancetta.


For the dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cake flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons high-quality lard or unsalted butter, chilled

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

7 to 10 tablespoons cold water


For the filling

5 ounces thinly sliced pancetta

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red onion, cut into ¼-inch dice

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½ pounds spinach, beet greens, or Swiss chard leaves, or a blend, cooked until barely wilted, squeezed dry, and chopped

1 ½ to 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


2 large eggs, beaten


For the garlic oil

2 tablespoons high-quality lard or extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced


Hailing from Emilia-Romagna, erbazzone is one of those simple but specific gastronomic specialties that never traveled too far from home. This savory pie is sometimes referred to as scarpazzone after peasant families who would also use the white stem or the ‘scarpa’ (shoe) of the chard (continue reading about erbazzone here).


For the dough

Combine the flours and salt in a bowl, make a well in the center, and add the lard and olive oil. Working with your fingertips or a pastry cutter, blend in the fats until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with 7 tablespoons of the water and toss with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. If it is too dry, add more water, a teaspoon or so at a time. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in a plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.


For the filling

In a small bowl, combine about ¼ cup of the pancetta with a little of the garlic, about ¼ cup of the onion, and a generous amount of pepper. Set aside.


Cook the remaining pancetta in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it has given off much of its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining onion and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Uncover, raise the heat to high, and cook until the filling is a rich golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the greens are tender, about 7 minutes.


Stir in the remaining garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. If a brown glaze has formed in the skillet bottom, add a little water and simmer, scraping the browned bits, until the liquid evaporates. Turn the filling into a bowl and let cool.


Add 1 ½ cups of the Parmigiano and the reserved pancetta mixture to the filling. Taste for seasoning, and add up to ½ cup more Parmigiano, if desired. Blend in the eggs.


Set a rack as close to the bottom of the oven as possible and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


For the garlic oil, combine the lard and garlic in a small pan and heat over medium heat until the lard had melted. Remove from the heat.


Brush a 14-inch pizza pan with the olive oil. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece to about a 14-inch circle, and place it on the pan. Spread the filling over the pastry, leaving about 2-inch border.


Roll out the second piece of dough to a 14-inch round. Dampen the edges of the bottom crust with water, top with the second round of dough, and pinch the edges together. Fold the edges over toward the center of the torta, and crimp. Make a few slashes in the top of the crust for steam to escape.


Bake for 20 minutes. Brush the crust with the garlic oil, and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is pale gold and very crisp and the edges are golden brown.


Cut into narrow wedges to serve.


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