Porrata o torta di porri – leek pie from Tuscany via Frank

porrea - torta di porri - leek pie

This is porrata or torta di porri, a leek pie – porri means leeks in Italian.

I learnt it from one of my favourite websites: Memorie di Angelina, written by Frank Fariello and chock a block with great authentic Italian recipes. In turn, Frank learnt it from Giuliano Bugialli and Bugialli claims it to be of Tuscan origin.

It is a bread dough, filled with a huge quantity of cooked down leeks, a couple of eggs and, if you want, some diced pancetta, with the sweetness of the leeks being counterbalanced by a hefty dose of freshly ground black pepper. In some other versions, a pate brisée takes the place of the bread dough and cooked ham  instead of the pancetta – and why not, they sound equally good.

To my knowledge the oldest references to this pie are to be found in the 1804 Memorie istoriche dell’Ambrosiana R. Basilica di S. Lorenzo (Historic Memoirs of San Lorenzo Basilica, Florence), edited by Domenico Moreni, but actually written by Pier Nolasco Cianfogni – both were men of the cloth.  In this book, it is said that in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, leek pies were traditionally prepared by the monks of San Lorenzo Basilica fifteen days after the feast of San Lorenzo (10th of August), on a day named Porrea or Porrata (I remind you that “porro” means “leek” in Italian), to celebrate the souls of the dead benefactors of the basilica, but we do not know anything about the composition of such pies. Whether it is something Bugialli read about in some other sources or something he came up with (collating unrecorded domestic versions, possibly), the bottom line is that this leek pie is delicious.

I have tweaked Frank’s and Bugialli’s version here and there – largely by using less dough and by dispensing with the pancetta. If you want to use it, place some cubed pancetta on the bottom of the rolled out dough, before adding the leeks.
This pie is much better at room temperature and keeps well for a couple of days. It is great picnic food.

Porrata – Leek pie
6-8 portions

Make a straight bread dough, using:
200 g bread flour, including 10% wholemeal flour
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 scant teaspoon instant dried yeast
1 egg
between 50 g  to 100 g water

Let it proof over 5-6 hrs

In the meantime, prepare your leeks:
wash and slice 1.5 kg leeks. Cook them in a large pan, adding a generous glug of oil and some salt. By the end, they must be well reduced in bulk and rather dry, not at all soupy. Let them cool then add a couple of eggs, a generous handful of grated parmesan and a lot of black pepper.

Roll out the dough onto a piece of parchment: you are aiming at a 30-35 cm disc. Shower the base with some more grated parmesan, add the filling, leaving a clean edge of about 5 cm. Fold in the edge to make an open-faced pie, with a pleated rim. Brush the edge with oil and sprinkle it with salt.

Bake in a preheated oven (200C) for about 45 minutes. I generally cook the pie first on the bottom of the oven for about ten minutes and then transfer it to the middle of the oven, until well cooked.

Eat at room temperature.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Porrata o torta di porri – leek pie from Tuscany via Frank

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Stefano! Your porrata looks fabulous, even without the pancetta.. 😉

    I’d forgotten about the origin story of the dish, fascinating stuff. I love me some culinary history. Maybe that’s why I enjoy Bugialli so much. (He’s not to everyone’s taste, apparently).

    Like

  2. Frank is — like you — a go-to source for authentic Italian recipes. Love this one – and will probably make it (if I can get leeks) using the pâte brisée. I’m needing to be quick about things these days as work is taking a lot of time!

    May I tell you a funny story? Mark and I were in Certaldo Alto quite a few years ago. There was a restaurant there run by a well-known chef, although at the moment I cannot remember her or his name. We were perusing the menu and there was a duck dish with fried leeks — but whoever translated the menu had us laughing out loud! As you well know, porri are both leeks and warts. So they were offering duck with fried warts. The moral of the story? Don’t always use the first translation in your dictionary!

    Liked by 1 person

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