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Christmas Eve in Messina with the “pitoni messinesi”

Have you ever heard of a Sicilian delicacy called the “pitoni messinesi”?

One of the most traditional food you can eat in Messina‘s families for Christmas Eve is definitely this exquisite calzone of poor origins which you can have fried or baked in the oven.

Being a family recipe, as often happens there are several versions, some put tomatoes in the filling, some other don’t, ecc…

I personally love the classic one with only 3 ingredients: anchovies, Sicilian cheese (either caciocavallo or primo sale or smoked scamorza), and, some kind of local vegetable with large green leaves, that we call indivia or scarola, and can be translated into endive or escarole or wild lettuce, or any other similar of your choice.

Ingredients & Preparation:

To make the dough for about 6 calzoni

400 gr – Flour 00
25 gr brewester’s yeast
50 gr lard
12 anchovies
1 bunch of indivia or scarola (about 500 gr)
200 gr – a Sicilian cheese of your choice (provola, scamorza caciocavallo or primosale to be cut in slices).
Salt & Pepper + 25. gr salt for the dough

oil for frying (of your choice)


Place salt and yeast in a glass or bowl half filled with lukewarm water (about 200 gr) and stir until it is all completely melted in the water.
In a large bowl (or on the kitchen counter) place the flour and slowly pour the water in the flour, mixing all together. Add then the lard and keep kneading until you have a proper dough which has to be soft and able to come off your hands (in other words not sticky).
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and leave it to rest the time you need to cut your cheese in slices (or cubes if you prefer), as well as the vegetable.


Once your ingredients are ready, from the dough form at least 6 balls of the same size (you can weight them if you want to be more precise). If they are slightly smaller can be 8.

Roll each of them with a rolling pin (about 2/3 mm thick) giving it a rounded shape and start filling half of it, as you would normally do with a classic calzone. Put 3 pieces of anchovies, a handful of endive or escarole, salt and pepper and finally abundant cheese on top (at least 3 or 4 slices).

Cover with the other half left without filling, making sure the edges stick one another and there are no holes in the dough otherwise the cheese will come out and get burnt.

Once you have all the pitoni ready, fry them in oil (or bake them in the oven if you prefer at a temperature of 180° for about 12 to 20 minutes (it depends how big they are).

Tips: If you are frying, the pitoni have to float in the oil, so if you don’t have a proper electric fryer, you can use an aluminium old casserole or pot of medium size with high rims which will allow you to get the perfect result. 

Once they are golden brown on both sides leave them on kitchen paper to absorb the exceeding oil for a couple of minute, then serve hot.

It’s such a simple recipe and it is so incredibly tasty. I am sure you will love it, whether you choose to fry it or bake it, whether you go with the provola or the wild lettuce, the essence of it is using the most basic everyday ingredients and create something exquisite with it, perfect to be enjoyed for Christmas Eve.

Happy Holidays lovely foodies and enjoy!

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