Erbazzone

  • by Nonna Box April 16, 2022
  • |
  • Last Updated on April 15, 2022
Erbazzone recipe spinach savory pie

What is Erbazzone?

Crisp, light, fresh, and delicious, this is Erbazzone. Erbazzone is a thin savory pie made from a simple pastry filled with fresh greens, meat, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It is a specialty of the Reggio-Emilia cuisine and makes for a tasty and healthy snack or lunch. 

A Specialty of Reggio-Emilia Cuisine

There is a savory specialty that best symbolizes the tradition of the peasant culture of Reggio-Emilia and its province: it is the erbazzone, locally known as “scarpazzone” (scarpasòun, in the local dialect). It is a savory pie, closed on the surface, with a filling based mainly on chard and other seasonal herbs, such as spinach. It is enriched with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and completed with lard or pancetta. Filling and rich in taste, it arose from the habit of using up the often discarded part of the chard.  However, like other regional recipes with humble origins, such as piadina Romagnola or the Umbrian torta al testo, erbazzone is now appreciated far beyond its territory of origin.

A Short History of Erbazzone

It may be said that erbazzone is the perfect example of the motto  “making a virtue of necessity” in action. Chard stems were often discarded since they are too hard and bitter but instead this ingredient became the main protagonist of the erbazzone recipe.  Erbazzone was prepared in the traditional sol, a round-shaped copper mold with a metal handle. It was an essential cooking utensil and household wood ovens were often built to have enough space for the family sol which could sometimes be up to 24 inches in diameter. 

It was customary to prepare erbazzone  for the entire period between June and November since this was the time that chards were in season. 

Erbazzone: Characteristics and Ingredients

Since erbazzone was historically cooked in the family sol it is traditionally round in shape, but today, it is no longer necessary to be round. It is not uncommon for erbazzone to be rectangular in shape. 

Traditionally, erbazzone is prepared by first making the dough which consists of flour, water, salt, and lard. Modern recipes often substitute the lard for olive oil or butter. The dough is separated into two discs that will serve for the top and bottom portion of the erbazzone. Before being baked, the disc of dough covering the cake is pierced with a fork, to prevent it from swelling too much during cooking, and sprinkled with pieces of lard or bacon. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is another main ingredient in the erbazzone, which is grated and combined with the chard, giving a boost of flavor to the filling.

erbazzone recipe chard savory pie

As with all the specialties that have been handed down through time, there are many  interpretations and recipes with alternative ingredients. It is therefore not uncommon to come across versions of erbazzone in which spinach, herbs or other wild herbs complement or completely replace the chard. In some cases, however, the filling also includes eggs or ricotta cheese, with the latter contributing to making the mixture creamier, similar to that of stuffed cannelloni.

What are some variations of Erbazzone?

From the plains where Reggio-Emilia is located to the Apennines, erbazzone is enjoyed all throughout its province. The Apennine area has developed a version of erbazzone that consists of a rice filling. From the earliest days, many women would travel down to the valley to work in the rice fields where they were compensated with sacks of rice. Thus, rice found wide popularity as an ingredient in many home-prepared recipes and eventually was incorporated into the erbazzone.  The rice is combined, together with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and possibly ricotta and eggs, with the previously blanched and sautéed chard to form a unique and delicious filling. 

Erbazzone Recipe

Like any traditional recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, every Reggio-Emilia family has its own Erbazzone recipe. It is therefore difficult to identify an “official” recipe. We will provide one that we believe to be quite faithful to the tradition.

erbazzone

Erbazzone recipe spinach savory pie

Erbazzone

This spinach savory pie is a delicious way to consume the veggie at any time.
4.67 from 3 votes
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Course: pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 378kcal
Author: Nonna Box

Ingredients

For the stuffing

For the pastry

  • 200 g (1.6 cups) flour
  • 100 ml (0.42 cups) warm water
  • 40 g (2.71 tbsp) lard
  • q.s. (q.s.) salt

Equipment

  • 1 Aa rectangular pan measuring approximately 25 × 35 cm

Instructions

  • Clean and wash the chard. Blanch the chard and chop it coarsely.
  • In a pan over high heat, melt a part of the lard and add the onion cut into thin strips along with the peeled garlic cloves.
  • When the onion and garlic are browned, add the chard, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, and let them simmer for a few minutes.
  • Remove the garlic and let the mixture cool. Next, add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Next, begin preparing the pastry by sifting the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and lard and begin kneading the mixture.
  • Add water, a little at a time, and continue kneading the mixture until your dough is a soft and elastic mixture. Cover the bowl that contains the dough, and let it rest at room temperature for ½ an hour.
  • Prepare your baking container or mold by either lining it with parchment paper, or greasing it with a tiny drizzle of olive oil.
  • After your dough has rested, divide it into two equal parts. Roll the one part out with a rolling pin so that it is only a few millimeters thick and will be longer and wider than the baking dish/mold.
  • Place the thinly rolled out dough over the making mold making sure that it covers the edges of the mold. It should look like it is “pouring over” the edges. Fill with your chard mixture, evenly distributing the filling.
  • Roll out the second half of the dough even thinner than the first, and slightly wider than the mold. Then place it on top of the mixture in order to cover it completely.
  • Fold and compress the edges of the two sheets on all sides, and with a knife cut off any excess around the edges. Make sure all sides are sealed. Gently with a fork, pierce a few air holes throughout the top surface of the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F and bake the erbazzone for 30 minutes. If you are using a convection oven, set your temperature to 350 °F and bake for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the erbazzone, and once the surface reaches a crisp golden color you may remove it.
  • Remove the erbazzone, and add a coating of lard to the surface. Bake for a few additional minutes. Then remove and let it cool.
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There are two schools of thought with regards to how to best serve the erbazzone. Some prefer to serve the erbazzone hot because the crunchy outer layer contrasts well with the farm filling, whereas others prefer it to be served warm or even cold. In any case, the erbazzone can be served to your liking, and it makes for a great appetizer or main course meal. It is abundantly present on the streets of Reggio Emilia as a quick and easy meal as it’s considered local street food and can be enjoyed in many different settings. 

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