cooking with nonna and a fraguni recipe
It's spring! The time when my herbs start to sprout their little green shoots, snow turns to rain, I get to finally stop carrying around my winter jacket (please, let it be soon) and Easter is just days away! I genuinely love Easter. Part of the reason is that, to this day, my mom still hides chocolate for us (her three grown daughters) around the house. You may be thinking to yourself "but, you're all adults...". Yeah, we are. And it's magical, I love it. Try to think of it less as grown women on an Easter egg hunt set up by their mom and more as a scavenger hunt with chocolate prizes. Like I said,- magical. Another reason I love Easter is the food. Good Friday, like Christmas Eve, is a meat-free day for many Italians. So when Easter Sunday comes around and that lamb rolls out of the oven on a cloud of rosemary-scented steam, the anticipation is tangible. Also, Easter Sunday is the only day of the year that I get Fraguni <3
Fraguni are a traditional Calabrese dish that are basically delicious, ricotta-filled, deep-dishish, personal-sized pizzas. Intrigued? You should be. Feel free to leave out the Calabrese sausage (soppressata) for any vegetarians,- it's just as delicious without it, scout's honour! A quick note: try to get the freshest ricotta you can for this dish,- it makes all the difference, trust me. Also, this dish requires a bit of forethought,- you'll need to let the ricotta sit in the fridge for 24-48 hrs before you use it to allow the liquid to drain thoroughly. It's worth it. I promise.
And so, I bring you the recipe for Fraguni; a deliciously traditional Calabrese dish that is made on the Saturday before Easter and then served on Easter Sunday.
For the dough:
- 16g yeast
- 1 1/4C warm water
- 5C warm water
- 2.5tbsp salt
- 3tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1900g flour
- 175g soppressata/calabrese dried sausage, casing removed and finely chopped
- 20g parsley, washed and roughly chopped
- 1111g ricotta, thoroughly drained over the course of 24-48hrs by allowing it to sit in a fine strainer in the fridge while the top is covered with tinfoil
- 22g tuma cheese, drained and finely chopped
- 8 eggs
- 1/2tsp salt
To make the dough:
1. Add yeast to the 1 1/4C of warm water and allow to sit for a few minutes, until it becomes foamy. Pour into a large bowl with the remaining 5C warm water, add the canola oil and salt and mix. Add the flour and mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. It will be a damp/sticky dough, so sprinkle a bit of flour on its surface before leaving it in a warm place to double in size (approximately 2-3 hours)
To make the filling:
2. While the dough is rising, make the filling for the fraguni. In a large bowl, mix the drained ricotta with the chopped tuma cheese, chopped parsley, eggs, salt and the chopped soppressata (if using). Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble the fraguni:
3. Preheat the oven to 400*F.
4. When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into 185g-195g balls. Using a rolling pin, roll the portioned dough into disks that are around 1cm thick. Place approximately 3/4C of filling in the centre of each disk and fold and crimp approximately 1.5inch of the disk's dough border to create a thick crust.
5. Place the filled fraguni on a floured tray. Bake one tray on the bottom rack for approximately 20 minutes or until the bottom of the fraguni are firm and lightly browned. Move tray to the top rack and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the fraguni are cooked through. Five minutes after switching the tray from the bottom rack to the top rack, place a new tray of unbaked fraguni in the oven on the bottom rack. Continue to cycle the trays until all of the fraguni have been cooked.
*Note: Because this can be confusing, in summary: cook on bottom rack for 20 minutes, then cook on top rack for 15 minutes. Five minutes after moving the tray from the bottom rack, put a new tray of fraguni in the oven and repeat.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.