the appetizer:

Don't settle for standard barbecue fare. Try recipes from the Italian Grill by Mario Batali, including Clams in Cartoccio; Piadina with Taleggio, Coppa, and Apples; and Pork Shoulder Braciole.

Cookbook Profile

Piadina with Taleggio, Coppa, and Apples

Makes 12 Piadine


Piadine are a favorite snack in Romagna, the eastern part of Emilia-Romagna, where you will find them in every panini bar. Traditionally they were cooked on special embossed tiles, which imprinted them with a decorative pattern.


Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Place a piastra on the grill to preheat.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each piece into a 6-inch round, and place on two baking sheets or trays.

Quarter the apples, core them, and, using a mandoline or other vegetable slicer, cut them into paper-thin slices. Put them in a shallow bowl and squeeze a little lemon juice over them, tossing gently so the slices don't break (don't worry if a couple of them do). Set aside.

Working in batches, place the rounds on the piastra and cook until light golden brown on the first side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side. Transfer to the baking sheets.

When all are done, smear the soft Taleggio evenly over the piadine and cover with the sliced coppa. Pile the apples on top of the coppa.

Place the piadine on the grill for a minute or two to rewarm them, then serve.


Taleggio is a creamy Italian cow's-milk cheese with a slightly nutty flavor. You could substitute Teleme from California, a creamy Fontina, or even Bel Paese, which has a similar texture.


Piadina Dough

Makes about 2 pounds

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and zap to mix. Scatter the pieces of lard over the flour and pulse just until incorporated. With the motor running, add the water and process just until the dough begins to dump together.

Turn the dough out and press it into a ball. It is ready to be used.

This dough uses baking powder rather than yeast for leavening. If you can get high-quality lard, do try it—lard always makes the best pastry and dough.

Cooking On a Piastra

Cooking on a piastra is a time-honored technique throughout Italy, especially in Friuli and along the Adriatic Coast. Alla piastra essentially means cooking on a flat griddle over a hot fire, and the same method is popular throughout the Mediterranean. Cooking a la plancha is a favorite way of preparing fish in Spain, and in Greece, cooking on a satz, a sheet of metal, is centuries old. Today the free-form sheets of metal used in ancient times have mostly been replaced by griddles made of cast iron or another metal. You could use a regular stovetop griddle with a smooth surface as a piastra. These are readily available in housewares shops, some hardware stores, and online; a large rectangular griddle that fits over two burners is a good choice. An old fashioned cast-iron pancake griddle would also work, although these are on the smaller side, or even a quarter-inch-thick slab of slate. But best of all is my piastra (see, which is made of thin but durable, and remarkably light, granite and, at 10 inches by 14 inches, gives you a generous cooking area.

The advantage of a piastra is that it gives you a very hot cooking surface-hot enough to make mussels dance when they are tossed onto it (see Mussels alla Piastra with Prosciutto Bread Crumbs, page 96 of the book). It's a fun and easy way to cook many foods from shrimp (see page 101) to calamari (see page 93). I also use one to "grill-bake" flatbreads such as schiacciate (pages 76 and 79). Just be sure to give the piastra enough time to get really hot—let it preheat, covered, on the hot grill for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

VillaWare Stainless-Steel Pizza Grill with Rectangular Stone

Old Stone Oven 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stone


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This page created June 2008