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Torta Massacraria, Massacree Pie

Torta Sbudellosa, Blood & Guts Pie

Torta Sbudellosa, Blood & Guts Pie

Shortly after I moved to Italy in 1982 I went with several friends to see ET, and had to explain why people were dressed in costume for the Halloween sequence, because the holiday was unknown in Italy then — people dressed up and had a great time at Carnevale, Shrove Tuesday, but not the night before Ognissanti, All Saints Day.

Things have changed tremendously since then, and now Halloween is almost as popular in Italy as it is in the US, though it’s more of an adult holiday, with racy costume parties, and teens taking advantage of an opportunity to dress up and run wild. Elisabetta and I are a little old for that, so we generally have some of Daughter C’s friends and their parents over for dinner, and this savory pie is just the thing for the kids.

  • 6 hot dogs (standard Italian hot dogs weigh about 85 grams, or three ounces), cut into finger-thick rounds
  • 1/2 pound (200 g) spaghetti that cook in 6-7 minutes (check the cooking time on the package)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) béchamel sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (or to taste) tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padana, or the grating cheese of choice
  • A sheet of store-bought puff pastry dough sufficient for a 9-inch (22 cm) pie pan
  • A cup of clean dried beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Set your oven to 400 F (200 C) and set a pot of pasta water to boil.

Italian store-bought puff pastry comes rolled up around a sheet of oven parchment; unroll the sheet of puff pastry and set it in the pie tin, on its sheet of oven parchment, and sprinkle the beans into the pan, shaking the pan so they form an even layer.

Take half of your spaghetti strands and break them in half. Insert 4-5 into a hot dog round, then hold the round between thumb and forefinger while pressing the strands though the round with the palm of your other hand; you will end up with a round that has strands sticking about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) out either side. Continue until you have stuck all the hot dog rounds, breaking more pasta strands in half as necessary. You may not need them all.

As soon as your oven reaches the desired temperature, bake the puff pastry shell for 10 minutes, then remove it, and once it has cooled enough that you can handle it, remove the beans.

In the meantime, you will likely have finished sticking your hot dogs; salt the pasta water as soon as it boils and cook the rounds and pasta for about 7 minutes.

Torta Sbudellosa

Torta Sbudellosa

While they are cooking prepare the béchamel sauce, coloring it with the tomato paste, and adding the cayenne pepper if you want to add a little zing. Stir half the grated cheese into the sauce too.

Drain the spaghetti-stuck hot dog rounds carefully . Spoon a thin layer of béchamel sauce over the bottom of the pie crust and cover it with about half the hot dog rounds, making certain the layer is of even thickness. Spread half the remaining béchamel sauce over the rounds, seasoning if you want with a little salt and pepper (I don’t find it necessary), add the remaining rounds, and spread the remaining sauce over the top, sprinkling the remaining grated cheese over it.

Bake for 10 minutes, and if your kids are like mine they will enjoy it.

Yield: 4-6 (or even 8 if the kids are small) servings torta sbudellosa.