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The idea of posting the recipe for cassoeula it came to me after my sister-in-law, from Salento moved to the north, invited me to taste this key dish of Brianza and Milanese peasant cuisine homemade. The cassoeula? Come on ... Do you want to see that the cassoeula likes it?
The occasion, my sister-in-law later told me, was a visit to aorganic farm in Brianza where in this period complete envelopes with everything you need (a sort of cassoeula kit) for the traditional preparation of this pork and cabbage ensemble. Okay, but not everyone likes cassoeula and then you have to know how to prepare it ...
I changed my mind after seeing the freshly printed flyer of an Egyptian rotisserie with a take-away offer that includes pizza, mixed fried food, kebap and… cassoeula. Cultural integration between the stoves, wonderfully green! November has arrived, it's raining, the first damp autumn cold (other than the dry and pungent one of winter) stimulates new appetites and gathers calories: for the cassoeula (as for the pig) it is his death.
Cassoeula is a complete dish, full, enveloping, intense that to those who taste it for the first time recalls the Italian sweet and sour tradition (typical of pork-based dishes) with flavors that are not found in any other preparation. Sates, fills, intoxicates: accompanied by the inevitable polenta, a cassoeula is a full Sunday lunch that opens the way to a (almost necessary) nap in the warmth.
The first thing to know is that the cassoeula is one peasant preparation made with the so-called poor parts of the pig: puntina (cousin of the rib, then we'll see how) rind, tail, muzzle, feet. The only noble ingredient, for those who could afford it, is the salamino verzino (a relative of the salamella and different from the cotechino) which must be added halfway through cooking. In short, cassouela is the typical 'collection dish', a symbol of saying that "nothing is thrown away from the pig".
And then there cabbage: a lot, a lot of cabbage (hence the name of the sausage mentioned above), better if still wet with autumn frost. This vegetable is actually the real protagonist of the cassoeula, because if the pork can be replaced with kid or lamb (for the preparations that are defined as 'in cassoeula'), cabbage can never be missing. The outer green leaves are the most suitable and tasty. The other vegetables present are celery and carrot for the initial sauté. We tend to exclude the onion (I personally do it) because it emphasizes the already known sweets of the pork and in my opinion there is no need.
This clarification of the onion makes it clear that of the cassoeula (which in my part of Brianza becomes 'Cazzöla') exist a robust basic recipe and some small variations. One of these is the addition of broth (in my opinion completely useless), the nuance of red wine (optional) and the oil instead of butter for the sauté, to be taken into consideration because it makes everything a little lighter .
For the parts of the pig, not to be missed are the push pins which, we said, are different from ribs. The latter are the terminal part of the ribs (or ribs), made of bone covered with meat, excellent for summer grills. The pins instead are the part grafted to the column, including the cartilage and normally with a part of extra fat. The rind is also important, deprived of the hair and cut into squares. Optional nose (which is always rind but with an extra portion of fat), tail and feet. Pigtails and feet, if necessary, must be boiled separately because they have a different cooking. The salamino verzino is made with the same dough as the salamella, but it is smaller and suitable to fit on the plate.
The broth, which some cookbooks recommend, can be easily done without. A hint of red wine adds flavor but must be done in the sautéed phase and over high heat so as not to leave the bitterness. Nordic butter can be replaced in whole or in part with olive oil (which the farmers in the north did not have), also because it is better than cooked. However, keep in mind that cassoeula cooks in pork fat and cabbage water, so very little is needed for seasoning. A little tomato is added to give color, rather than flavor, and the ideal is triple concentrated of tomato in tubes (the only type of tomato together with peeled tomatoes once available in winter) while to avoid is the fresh tomato, which farmers in November did not even dream of. A pair of cloves they look great.
The following is the basic recipe of cassoeula, the simplest and not too greasy, on which to eventually graft the variants according to taste. Since cassoeula is a dish to be enjoyed in company and can be kept heated (according to many, heated is even better) I propose doses for 12 people. Accompaniments: flour polenta corn yellow. Wine (better if moved): Bonarda or Barbera.
Ingredients for the cassoeula (or cazzöla)
700g of pork tips 8; 600g of salami verzini; 200g of pork rinds (or pork rinds); 300g. carrots; 200g of celery; 3 kg. of cabbage; triple tomato concentrate; oil; 1 glass of red wine; 2 cloves; coarse salt and pepper.
Prepare a base with oil, celery and carrots cut into small pieces (if you use butter, be careful not to let it smoke because it becomes bitter). Add the pins and rinds and let them brown well. Deglaze with the red wine over high heat. Once the alcoholic part of the wine has evaporated, you can add the cabbage cut into pieces (or torn by hand) without fear of abounding because in cooking the cabbage is greatly reduced; you can help with the lid to press the cabbage into the saucepan. Add a handful of coarse salt, pepper and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring as the cabbage flakes. After about an hour, add the verzini and continue cooking over low heat. Complete cooking takes about 2 hours.