Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
X Italian Breads and Pizzas
pizza con ciccicoli
Pizza con Ciccioli (Pizza with pork cracklings, without potatoes, Version I)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Pauline Fresco (her mother's recipe)

Printer Friendly Version


For the Pizza dough

5 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups tepid water
1 packet of traditional Fleischmann's dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or 8g)

Ingredients for flavoring the pizza (Ideally made the day before)

1/2 pound fresh pork meat that is deemed too fatty to be included in the making of Italian sausages (The pork meat is then fried and the fat or lard is rendered and later strained, the meat that is left over after the fat is strained are the "ciccioli" and these are then used to flavor the pizza dough). The amount of fried and strained "ciccioli" should measure about 3/4 cup.

Seasonings for the "ciccioli"
1 teaspoon salt

For greasing pan
Crisco (lard) for greasing aluminum baking pan

N.B. For Pizza dough Pauline Fresco's mother, Annunziatina (nee Melfi) Fresco, used the following forumla: for every cup of solids (flour, salt etc.) she used 1/2 cup of liquids (which included the water used to proof the yeast).


o Place the yeast in 1 1/2 cup of tepid water, stir, and then let it rest for about 15 minutes. If the mixture bubbles up, then the yeast is proofed and ready to be used to make the dough.

o Place the 5 cups of flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the bowl. Add the proofed yeast and a cup of so of water. Mix well. Add the remaining water and work into a pizza dough.

o Place the pizza dough on a lightly wooden board and knead for about half an hour, "punching" the dough as much as possible until the dough is shiny and malleable. Alternatively, a Kitchen Aid can be used.

o Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large container and cover. To avoid drafts the dough can be placed in a conventional oven that is NOT turned on. Let the dough rest for three to four hours or until it doubles in size.

o Ideally, one makes the "ciccioli" the day before one makes the pizza as it might be a whole-day affair to render the fat (sogna) from the meat and retain the remaining meat pieces (ciccioli). The "ciccioli" come from the part of the pork meat that was deemed too fatty to use to make Italian pork sausages. To make the "ciccioli" one first salts the meat, and then renders the lard ("sogna") from the fatty pork sausage meat on very low heat. After the fat has been rendered, the mixture is placed through a strainer, the tiny bits of meat that remain on the top of the stainer are the "ciccioli" and these are what are later incorporated into the pizza dough [about 3/4 cup].

o Cool the "ciccioli" after the fat has been rendered. They should be at room temperature when they are mixed into the dough (If they are too hot when placed in the pizza dough they might kill the yeast).

o After the pizza dough has doubled in size, knead the dough and then stretch it out. Spread the "ciccioli," the tiny bits of fried pork pieces whose fat has been rendered and strained [about 3/4 cup] on the stretched-out dough, and then roll it up as if it were a jelly roll.

o Place the rolled-up dough in a bowl, cover and let it rest for about 2 hours.

o After the dough has rested and increased substantially in volume, remove from bowl.

o Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

o Stretch out the dough in a large aluminum baking sheet greased with Crisco (lard).

o Bake the pizza in a 400 F degree oven for about about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pizza dough is golden.

o Serve warm or at room temperature.


The photo was taken by Mary Melfi who can vouch for the fact that her late aunt, Annunziatina Fresco, made the best pizza (red, white, whatever) on the planet. Apparently, her pizza recipe always followed this simple rule of thumb: for every cup of solids [flour, salt etc.], add 1/2 cup of liquids [water, oil etc.]. While this formula works quite well, it does not completely explain why her pizzas were so much better than everyone else's in the Melfi-Fresco clan. Possibly, the real secret for her great pizzas was in the way she kneaded her dough. First of all, Annunziatina Fresco never used a Kitchen Aid -- all her kneading was done by hand. And second of all, not only did she knead the dough the traditional way, using the palms of her hands as required (The technique is often demonstrated by master chefs on T.V. food shows) she also "punched" the dough, creating extra air bubbles. In any case, whatever she did to achieve her mouth-watering sun-filled Southern-style pizzas, she did it with tender-loving care (How that woman loved to bake!), and perhaps therein lay the secret to her success.... N.B. In Italy prior to World War II this type of pizza was done in December and January, when the local pigs were butchered and the "ciccicoli" were in large supply. When Italians immigrated to Canada pork meat was available throughout the year, so cooks did "pizza con ciccicoli" any old time.

Back to main list