Piadina (in English “flatbread”), is one of the most popular dishes of the Emilia Romagna region, and it is certainly appreciated all over the country. It looks like a pastry disk, made of flour, lard, salt and water, and it is traditionally cooked either on a terracotta dish or metal griddle over hot coals.
Piadina has an ancient history dating back to the Etruscans, who prepared a batter of cereals similar to piadina. For many years, this flatbread was considered a peasants’ meal because the ingredients are simple and easy to find. The traditional piadina is filled with Parma ham (prosciutto crudo), squacquerone or crescenza, fresh and tasty cheeses, quite soft and mild tasting, and of course with arugula (rocket) which gives the sandwich a zesty taste to munch on! It is also delicious when it is spread only with cheese and arugula, and a perfect foil for cold cuts or grilled sausages too; actually the choice is unlimited. It is up to you to decide how you prefer to enjoy it.
It is an ideal dish for lunch, for a quick snack during the day. It can also be consumed as a substitute for bread to accompany various dishes. It is an excellent cookout bread. The homemade piadina, of course, has a distinctive flavor and aroma, but nowadays it is very common to consume pre-cooked piadina which is then heated on a griddle and then filled at the moment.
500 g (3 1/2cups) all-purpose flour
65 g (2,5 oz) soft lard
2 g ( a pinch) baking soda
6 g (1 heaping teaspoon) salt
200 ml (¾ cup) lukewarm water
200 g (7 oz) Prosciutto crudo
100 g (3.5 oz) squacquerone or crescenza cheese
1. Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Dissolve the salt in the water
2. Make a volcano with the flour on the work surface, making sure to form a “crater” big enough for holding the lard. Mix well by slowly adding lard and water. Knead to a smooth and homogeneous dough
3. Cover with a cotton cloth (or plastic paper) and let rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature
4. Divide the dough into 4 balls of equal size. To roll out the dough flatbread you need a wooden rolling pin – about 80 cm (32 inch) long and 4 cm (1 ½ inch)in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5 mm (⅛ inch) and make 4 discs of 23-25 cm (10 inch) in diameter. To obtain smooth edges use a wheel cutter with a smooth blade following the contour of a circular plate
5. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, wait until it is hot and place a disc of dough on the pan. Punch with a fork and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. It may puff up. If it does gently press the bubbles with a spatula
6. Spread with a thin layer of cheese, cover with a few slices of ham and garnish with arugula
7. Fold in half and serve warm.
Note: You can substitute lard with olive oil – about 110 ml (½ cup). The result will be a lighter piadina. You can also substitute water with milk; I personally prefer the taste of water. It is also possible to freeze piadina. Wait until it is completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Remove from the freezer, thaw and heat on a non-stick skillet. -Paola