Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Erbazzone, or Herb Sandwich from Parma


Wow that's a lot of snow, and wow I ate A LOT last night. It was just so good that I was not able to stop myself, even after I was so full I could barely move.

The problematic deliciousness was in the form of lots of spinach, cured pork product, and Parmesan wrapped in a pastry shell. Wow.

I love love love pie crust, which is why pie is so much better than cake. That's where this recipe started, with making the pie crust. Again, Mario tells me to cut in the butter with my fingers. So not happening. My food processor was one of the best $50 purchases I have ever made. I love you, food processor.

So while the dough was resting in the fridge, some finely minced bacon was sauteed. It was supposed to be pancetta, but blizzard #3 was approaching, and Whole Foods was too crowded to go wandering around in search of pancetta, and I did not intend to drive to Fresh Market for the pancetta that I know they have. Bacon was in the freezer, so bacon was in the herb sandwich.

Some onions were minced, and part of the onions, part of the bacon, some pepper and some garlic went into a separate bowl.

I suppose this was a way to add more flavor and texture when the pie/tart/sandwich was later assembled and cooked. I don't know.

The rest of the onions were sauteed with the "pancetta", and 2 pounds of spinach was added to the skillet. Two pounds of uncooked spinack takes up a lot of space, and Nick totally didn't believe me when I said that the spinach would cook down to a fraction of its original volume.

As I was pressing massive amounts of spinach into the skillet, I whispered to it, "Wilt! Don't prove me wrong!"

It wilted. I was supposed to add garlic at this point, but I forgot. Oops. I just added it later, because garlic is very necessary.

Holy cow. I just now noticed that the recipe instructs you to blanch the greens prior to adding them to the skillet. That makes so much more sense.

Even as I was shoving all of those greens into the skillet, I was thinking to myself that it would have made a lot more sense to have already blanched or steamed them. I was also thinking that the spinach released a TON of water, so why was Mario telling me that I might need to deglaze with water in order to get to the fond. Wow. I am such a genius.

Okay, so the spinach onion bacon mixture was allowed to cool a little, and the Parmesan, raw bacon and onion mix, and two eggs were stirred in.

The dough was then rolled out and the filling was placed on top. That is, the still-seeping filling that shouldn't have been seeping in the first place, but I didn't follow directions. I rock.

The second piece of rolled-out dough was placed on top and the edges were folded and crimped.

The sandwich baked for 20 minutes, at which point I brushed it with garlic oil and cooked it for 20 more minutes.

Reading this, it seems so quick and simple. Actually, though, it took forever. Nick and I usually eat late, but we ate very late last night. But when we did eat, wow I ate a lot. This pie/tart/sandwich thing was absolutely awesome. It smelled insanely good when it was taken out of the oven, and it did not disappoint.

Like I said, it was a combination of some of the best things in the whole world, so how could it not be great? I think I ate about 5,000 calories yesterday, but it doesn't count because it was a snow day. Right?

You're probably tired of hearing me talk about snow, right? And if you live in the Baltimore area, you're probably sick of dealing with snow.

This is blizzard #3 this year, and the second time in a week that a state of emergency and the hospital's corresponding code yellow have been called. Again, I am so lucky to not be stuck at work. Woo hoo.

Some Facebook buddies posted that we have now gotten more snow this year than both Buffalo and Alaska. That's totally crazy, but I believe it. Also, this is the most snowfall that this region has seen in recorded history.

Other Facebook people have published posts in which they detail the ways in which they are losing their minds. Especialy the people with kids. Even Nick is losing his mind because he's so bored.

He's out there shoveling in winds so strong that Facebookers are saying that it's scaring them. Apparently, the wind is strong enough to blow snow under the door and create a drift in the building's front entrance.

We had talked about building a snowman on the porch because that would be pretty cool, but I no longer know how to approach such an undertaking.

I guess we would first have to move that chest-high drift. Or maybe we could actually carve a snowman out of it.

I would just like to note, however, that I am not complaining about the snow (only because I haven't gotten stuck at work, knock on wood). I figure that if it has to be winter, it should be winter. It sucks when it's just cold and dreary. At least with all this snow it's less boring.

Speaking of bored, Nick's back, so it's time to cook more food.

Herb Sandwich from Parma

(Slightly Adapted from Molto Italiano)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons high-quality lard or unsalted butter, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, chilled
  • 7 to 10 tablespoons cold water


  • 5 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into a 1/4 inch dice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds spinach, beet greens, or swiss chard leaves, or a blend, blanched in boiling water till barely wilted, drained, squeezed dry, and chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano 
  • Salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Garlic Oil

  • 2 tablespoons high-quality lard or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

To make the dough, combine the flours and salt in a food processor and mix for a couple seconds. Add the olive oil (or lard) and the butter. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Move to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with 7 tablespoons cold water. With a spatula, gently mix. If it is too dry, add more water, a little at a time. Gather the dough into a bowl, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a small bowl, combine about 1/4 cup of the pancetta with a little of the garlic, about 1/4 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. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the greens are tender, about 7 minutes if you're using one of the heartier greens. 

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

Add the Parmesan and the reserved pancetta mixture to the filling. Taste for seasoning and blend in the eggs.

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

For the garlic oil, combine the olive oil (or lard) and garlic in a small pan and heat over medium until fragrant. Remove from the heat.

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


AOB said...

Yum, yum, yum! Never read this blog on an empty stomach! You'd have been proud of me last night, Leah! I was in the mood to cook some comfort food but no eggs and pretty much bare cupboards. I had the remains of a roasted chicken and a few tired veggies (carrots, onion, celery, potato)in the fridge. So I winged it and made chicken pot pies! Boiled the chicken until the meat fell off the bones, strain, reduce, add chopped veggies, thicken with a roux. I added Thyme to my regular pie crust recipe and they turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

Leah said...

Good job!