Piadina Romagnola

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A piadina (plural: piadine) is a flatbread made from flour, lard, and milk or water, stuffed with salumi (prosciutto, mortadella, etc.), cheese and vegetables (such as arugula and tomatoes) and then toasted, from the region of Romagna. If you can find squacquerone, that is the regional cheese that is used for piadine. Without the stuffing, piadine are very similar to wheat flour tortillas, but they are thicker.

They are traditionally made with lard, rendered pork fat, but the lard can be substituted with vegetable oil. The lard does lend an additional flavor to the piadine and make them more traditional, so use it if you can. Traditionally piadine are cooked on a terracotta dish called teggia, but any frying pan that holds heat well will work.

I discovered piadine for the first time in an Autogrill, the most common chain of food joints along the Italian autostrade (toll roads). In Emilia-Romagna, they are mostly sold by street vendors. Because they are toasted, they will taste fresh even if the stuffed piadina has been on display for a couple of hours.

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We went out on the river with our boat to pick up a new generator and hoist it onto the boat. As usual, I went along not for the technical stuff but to provide food 🙂 The wood-fired stove in the boat was perfect to make piadine, making them extra rustic. The piadine were a big success and it was a good thing that I had brought additional ingredients so I could make another batch.

Piadine are easy to make and great as a snack, for lunch, or an informal dinner. Stuffed with good quality Italian salumi and cheese, they are very tasty indeed.

Ingredients

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For 6 piadine

500 grams (3 1/3 cups) flour

100 grams (3.5 oz) lard, at room temperature

2 grams (1/2 tsp) baking soda

6 grams (3/4 tsp) salt

240 ml (1 cup) milk or water, at room temperature

Preparation

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Although piadine are quite rustic, I decided to bring my stand mixer to make life easy. You could of course also make the dough by hand. Put the flour in the bowl of the stand mixer and add the salt.

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Add the baking soda.

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Add the lard in chunks.

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Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and process on slow speed until the mixture is homogeneous.

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Add the milk or water while the machine is running.

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Keep mixing until the dough comes together. You may not need all the water or milk. The dough should not be too wet or too dry (similar to pasta dough).

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When the dough has come together, exchange the paddle for the dough hook. Knead for 5-10 minutes…

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…or until the dough is smooth and pliable. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for half an hour at room temperature.

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Take 1/6 of the dough (about 140 grams) and roll it out into a circle that fits into the pan you are going to use, about 24 cm (9″).

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Heat up a heavy-bottomed frying pan (cast iron is best).

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Put the piadina in the hot pan and prick it all over with a fork to prevent bubbles and uneven cooking.

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Turn it over as soon as small brown spots start to appear. This should take 2 minutes or less. If it takes longer, you should increase the heat as otherwise the piadina will dry out.

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Repeat until you have used up all of the dough.

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Arrange cheese (I used mozzarella and parmigiano), salumi (I used prosciutto), and vegetables (I used arugula and sliced tomatoes) on half of the piadina.

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Fold it and toast it. You can do this either between a toasting iron or in the same pan that you used to cook the piadine. In the latter case, turn it over to toast on both sides.

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Serve when the piadina is slightly crispy on the outside and warmed through with the cheese starting to melt on the inside.

Flashback

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Two typical Dutch ingredients are smoked eel and celeriac (aka celery root). In Dutch cooking, they are sometimes combined in celeriac soup with smoked eel. I thought it would be worth trying some Dutch-Italian fusion and make a smoked eel and celeriac risotto. Smoked eel is a delicacy because it melts on your tongue and has a very nice full flavor. It combines well with the earthy flavor of the celeriac.

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18 thoughts on “Piadina Romagnola

  1. La piadina è un ottimo pane rustico da servire con salumi, formaggi e ortaggi. In Emilia-Romagna lo cuociono sul “testo” di terracotta che permette una cottura molto più omogenea, però in famiglia viene bene anche sulle piastre di ghisa o nelle padelle di teflon antiaderenti!

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  2. I love piadinas! They are actually from Romagna and they are sold at all the “bagni” on the beach on the Riviera during the summer. With salumi is traditional but with arugula and squaquarone is divine. Yours looks like the real thing…well done! And the lard makes all the difference.

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      1. At our farmhouse in Quebec we had two wood stoves, one in the cellar and one in the living room. The upstairs one was the one (not surprisingly) that I used for cooking. You’re right – it is hard to regulate the heat and it usually takes quite a bit longer to cook something but it’s a fun challenge, isn’t it!! Have you guys been using your boat quite a bit. It looks like such fun, although I know a boat is a lot of work to ‘keep up with’.

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          1. And you’re damn good at it !! I absolutely loved the post – a few years ago – when you showed us how you cook on the boat! (That was when I first started following you!!)

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  3. Thank you for the detail. A recipe for these was published in Sydney back a few weeks – and drew criticism for its lack of authenticity.

    The piadines look superb. I sometimes find it hard to remember – are you Dutch or Italian? 🙂

    P.S. Which one is you in the photo on the boat? The one doing the serious lifting stuff?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of my Italian friends say I am an adopted Italian. What is very un-Italian about my Italian cooking, is that I cook dishes from all the regions of Italy. Most Italians stick to their own region, and usually to their grandmother’s recipes.
      I was the one taking the photo, so I’m not in it. I don’t participate in the serious technical stuff and limit myself to catering 🙂

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