Grilled Bread before Grilled Food

Piadina (Emilia) (1) Many times when I’ve got my grilling going I think “what a shame to let this fire burn unused after grilling food that only took 10 minutes to grill.”  So I usually like to grill something before the main food and perhaps grill the vegetables too and something afterwards.  I mean, you’ve got the grill going, blazing away, why not?  Grills are usually going when one is having a party and when one has a party you’ve always got hungry people around who want to munch on something.  I like to grill bread.  Specifically, I like to grill the famous flatbread of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna known as piadina.  I get the hardwood fire going and place a cast iron griddle on the grilling grate and I can cook the flatbread in minutes.  I serve the grilled bread with a good quality olive oil and some Italian cold cuts such as prosciutto, soppressata, coppa, and salami.

Piadina is one of the most traditional recipes from Romagna, a kind of focaccia if you will.  In the past it was cooked over hot coals in an earthenware pan called a testi.  It is very simply, pan-fried flatbread, and it is found in countless version around the world from the pizza of Naples, the pane carasau of Sardinia, the pide of Turkey, the tortilla of Mexico, the chapati of India and the khubz of the Arab world.

1 pound (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour

1 ounce pork lard, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Tepid milk or water or both, as needed
1. In a bowl, mix the flour, lard, baking soda, salt, and water until a smooth, compact, and hard dough ball can be formed.  Divide the dough into six portions and roll out the dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pan until 8 inches wide and ¼ inch thick.

2. Preheat a cast iron griddle over medium heat for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the piadini until golden brown and blackened marks appear and prick them with a fork as they cook, turning once.  It can be stuffed with ham or cheese.

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