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Without a doubt, grain is the characteristic ingredient of this recipe. If you have the time and feel up to the challenge, here’s how you cook the grain from scratch: soak 250 gr of dried grain in cold water for three days, changing it regularly. Rinse it well and fill a pot with enough water to cover the grain by about four inches. Bring the water to a boil and add the grain, cover and cook for one hour. Add enough water to cover the grain the again and cook on a low flame for another 3 to 4 hours. During this time check to make sure that the grain is covered and if necessary add boiling water to cover. When tender, drain the grain and then reweigh the correct amount for the recipe.
If you’re like 95% of the pastiera-makers on the planet, buy the pre-cooked grain in jars.
Note that Stella does not use the “Secret Agent of Spring”, but prefers fresh orange and lemon zest. Cinnamon is optional. She also avoids using candied fruits, but incorporates the local tradition of the Sannio, using Strega and Rum.
(recipe for 2 pies)
Short pastry or pasta frolla used to line the pie pan (to be made the evening before)
On a pastry board or in a mixer blend:
500 gr low-gluten flour
250 gr sugar
250 gr cold butter
one packet of vanilla powder
Lightly knead ingredients together into an elastic dough and wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator overnight.
Pastiera pie filling:
500 gr fresh ricotta (preferably mixture of cow and sheep)
275 gr cooked grain
200 gr milk
1/2 tablespoon butter
250 gr sugar
½ tablespoon lemon zest
½ tablespoon orange zest
25 gr Strega
25 gr. Rum
2 9” x 1 1/2 “ or 23 x 4 cm round baking tins
Pour the cooked grain into a pot, add the butter and lemon zest and cover with milk. Bring to a slow boil over a low flame, stirring until the mixture becomes a dense cream. Cool.
Beat together the ricotta, sugar, eggs, orange zest, rum and Strega and add to the cooled cream mixture.
Roll the short pastry into a fine crust and line the pie tins. Make sure you have enough extra dough to make the strips that will criss-cross on top.
Add the pastiera mixture to about 1 cm below the edge of the pie crust
Cut 6 strips of dough approximately 1.5 wide and 23cm long. Starting from the middle of the pie, place the first strip across the center and the other two equidistantly between it and the rim of the baking tin. Then turn the pan and place the other three strips at a diagonal to form a diamond pattern in diamond.
Bake at 200° C for one hour.