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If you have never heard of “Scacciata” before, do not look for it on Google. Come and taste!  Words cannot express how good this traditional Christmas recipe is. It is typical of Sicily, especially of the Catania and Etna areas. Scacciatas, in Sicily, are different according to which part of the island you taste them. They mainly look like pizzas, but the Etnean ones are special.

What makes Catania’s scacciata unique is the filling. It is “too much”, and it must be “too much”. Scacciata used to be the only rich food on the table of very poor people, in the past. It was their Christmas Dinner and had to fill their stomach for 3 or 4 days. There were no money to buy any other Christmas gift but this! Today people live better, things have changed. The scacciatas are part of a tasty “competition” and they allow new variations too.

The Catanese Scacciata

The Scacciata is a recipe dating back to 17th and 18th centuries. It belonged to the poor universe of the Sicilian farmers, in fact it is one of the very few Sicilian recipes not including fish. Products of the land and breeding are the main elements of this dish. They made of it a rich, unique food they only ate during Christmas Night. In centuries, the recipe has changed and even added more elements, especially in the district of Catania and Etna.

The standard recipe is: pizza dough, which must be very thin; broccoli, cauliflowers, pork meat – usually spiced sausages – onion and tuma cheese. Later on, also tomatoes were added. Then also dark olives and potatoes. Finally you add olive oil, salt, pepper and close it with some more dough. It will cook in the oven until it looks like a golden bread pie.

The variants of the Scacciata

scacciata 02
photo by Lamagicacucinadiluisa

Around the 19th century, the Etnean Scacciata  began to differentiate. The standard recipe, with meat, separated from the one with potatoes, in which this product replaced meat entirely. Thus a “vegetarian” variant  of the scacciata was born, consisting of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, olives and tuma cheese.

The new times have imposed further variations of the traditional Christmas dish. Today there is the vegan scacciata, without cheese and meat but with the addition of zucchini, rocket and celery. Or again, for those who do not like pork, here is the version which replaces the sausage with minced beef or with horse meat.

Today there are scacciatas made with shortcrust pastry to have more lightness (but certainly less consistency and the risk of losing the internal filling!). Some have eggs inside, hot-dogs instead of meat, with the addition of anchovies and so on.

The best Scacciatas

The Catanese Scacciatas are excellent wherever you want to taste them, both in Catania city and in the towns of the district or in the villages of Etna. The queen of sausage preparation is the town of Linguaglossa, on the northern side of the volcano. So if you want to enjoy a delicious traditional scacciata, make sure you are there on December 24th! The scacciatas that are prepared in the center of Catania are also excellent and those of Scillichenti, a small village near Acireale, are quite famous too.

The scacciatas they prepare in Militello Val di Catania, where an entire festival is dedicated to this product, are also very good. The best scacciatas can be bought in bakeries, although today many pizzerias have also become experts in making this dish. The most “courageous” can certainly try to prepare scacciata at home, as long as they have a traditional oven (which needs wood to light the fire). In the normal kitchen oven cooking is still good, but the authentic taste is what it gets from the wood-fire oven.

The recipe

There are several, and among many it is difficult to choose, but we have chosen one of the most faithful to tradition and we propose it to you:

DOUGH: 600g of durum wheat semolina flour, 300ml of water, 12g of brewer’s yeast, 20g of sugar, 12g of sea salt, 3 tablespoons of oil —- mix everything together, knea. Then cover and put in a closed and dry place to rise for 3 hours. Divide the dough into two parts, one large and one small, and roll them out to form thin circles.
FILLING: broccoli, or cauliflower, or both cut and boiled. Calabrian red onion. Black olives. Chopped tomato or tomato sauce. Crumbled sausage. Boiled and cut potatoes. Tuma cheese.

PREPARATION: arrange the filling on the larger disc, curling the edges well. Complete with salt, lots of pepper, olive oil. Close with the smaller circle of dough, making sure the edges adhere well so that they do not open during cooking. Make holes in the top to prevent the dough from swelling and cracking.

Bake at 180 ° C for about 30 minutes. (photo by: and Lamagicacucinadiluisa)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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