Erbazzone is a savory pie from the town of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy that is filled with chard (and sometimes also other greens, including spinach). I was reminded of it when Stefano posted his version of it. As usual with traditional Italian recipes, there are many versions. But for Erbazzone there seems to be an even greater variety than usual. And they all claim to be the authentic recipe of course. There are two main versions, with pastry (as I’ve prepared here), or with egg. There are even versions without pastry but with eggs, that are more like a frittata than a pie. Simona of Grembiula da Cucina is from the region, and she says that erbazzone always has egg. Her version doesn’t have any pastry and is like a frittata. Next time I will make it like that. I wonder what she will say about the version I prepared today. Some use only the chard leaves, others include the stalks as well. Some include spinach. Some versions use green onions, others use regular onions, or garlic. Some versions (like Stefano’s) are enriched with pancetta or lardo, which can be put in the filling, but also on top of the pie. There are even versions with rice or ricotta. And then there is the shape, which can be round or rectangular. And all of them are called erbazzone, or sometimes scarpazzone.
I wanted to make a very basic version that is made only from pasta matta (pastry made from flour and water with only a bit of fat), chard, onion, garlic, and parmigiano reggiano cheese. For the best flavor use lard, but if you want to keep it vegan you could also use olive oil. (Note that lard is rendered pig fat, called strutto in Italian, and is not to be confused with lardo, which is cured fatback.) It turned out delicious, with crunchy pastry and a very flavorful filling that brought out the natural sweetness of the chard.
500 grams (1.1 lbs) chard, washed and cut into ribbons (leaves and stalks)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
50 grams (1.8 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp (70 grams) lard, at room temperature (or extra virgin olive oil)
200 grams (1 1/3 cups) flour
Start by making the pasta matta. Combine 200 grams flour with 2 tablespoons lard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a bit less than 120 ml (1/2 cup) water in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Mix with the paddle attachment until the dough has come together. Add a bit more water if necessary.
When the dough has come together, switch over the the dough hook…
…and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of lard in a frying pan.
Add a minced small onion and a whole peeled garlic clove. Season with salt and stir for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent.
Add 500 grams of chard.
Cook, covered, over medium heat, until the chard is tender but firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Stir regularly. Cook uncovered towards the end if it still looks liquid. At the end, the chard should look quite dry.
Turn off the heat and remove the garlic. Allow the filling to cool somewhat while you roll out the dough.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Divide the dough into 2/3 and 1/3. Roll out the biggest piece to a circle of about 28 cm (11 inches).
Grease a 22 cm (9 inch) oven dish with lard.
Line the oven dish with the rolled out dough. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.
Transfer the filling to a bowl and add 50 grams of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
Stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the filling in the prepared oven dish.
Roll out the remaining piece of dough to a circle that is the size of the oven dish.
Place that circle on top of the filling, and pinch the edges together to close the pie.
Brush the top with lard.
Pierce the top all over with a fork so steam will be able to escape.
Bake the erbazzone for about an hour at 180C/350F or until it is golden.
Allow to cool somewhat before serving.
Duck breast with orange sauce is a French classic that remains delicious.