Cassoeula Recipe – a typical Milanese poor’s specialty

Cassoeula – Own work – Remulazz / CC BY-SA

Cassoeula, sometimes Italianized as cazzuola or cazzola, or bottaggio is a typical winter dish popular in Northern Italy, mostly in Lombardy. The dish has a strong, decisive flavor, and was a favorite of conductor Arturo Toscanini.

Cassoeula Origins
One account of the origins of the dish associates it with the January 17 celebration of St Anthony the Abbot which coincided with the end of the pig-slaughtering season.

Another, to the 16th century, when Spain ruled Milan. It tells how a Spanish army officer taught the recipe to his lover, who cooked for a noble Milanese family, and the dish was well-received and became popular.

The parts of the pig used for the dish were those ready for consumption immediately after slaughter, the poor parts of the pig. The better cuts of meat would be hung to improve the flavor.

The meat used in the dish includes mainly pork meat (usually least valuable parts like ribs, rind, head, trotters, ears, nose and tail), Verzino sausage, and sometimes other meats like chicken and goose. Cook for about two and a half hours with onion, carrot, celery and black pepper. Use a casserole. Add the cabbage. Cook for half-hour.

Cassoeula: Ingredients for this recipe

1 pig’s foot
1 lb. pork sausage
1/2 lb. pork rind
1 lb. pork ribs
2 tbs. oil
2 oz. butter
1 diced onion
1/2 lb. carrots, diced
1/2 lb. celery, diced
tomatoes, diced
3 lbs. Savoy cabbage

Cassoeula: How to make it:

Boil the pig’s foot and cut in half, lengthwise. Make a soffritto with oil, butter, and chopped onion. Add the pork rind, sausage, and ribs, cut into pieces, and the pig’s foot. Add the carrots, celery, and tomatoes if the meat is golden brown. Cook over medium heat. After 30 mins, add the cabbage, cut into strips. Salt and pepper to taste and cook for 45 min. The cooking juice should be somewhat thick. Remove the fat and put the cabbage.

Cassoeula is a Lombard dish with several versions. Sometimes, after the meats have been browned, a spoonful of tomato paste is added. Others cook the cabbage in a separate pot. They steam it in the water remaining on the leaves after washing, and add it to the meat. The quality of the meat added to the cassoeula varies. The simplest version requires only ribs and sausages, the most complicated includes the ears and tail. Polenta is the traditional accompaniment to cassoeula.

Serves 4-6

Regional recipe from Lombardy.

Corned Beef with Cabbage – Jonathunder / CC BY-SA
Cassoeula: A distant cousin from Ireland: Corned Beef with Cabbage

Corned beef is made from brisket, a relatively inexpensive cut of beef. The meat goes through a long curing process using large grains of rock salt, or “corns” of salt, and a brine. Slowly cooked, turns a tough cut of beef into one that’s super tender and flavorful.

The Milanese used the poor parts of the pig to cook the cassoela with cabbage, in Ireland they used the inexpensive cuts of beef for the Corned Beef with Cabbage.

Feijoada Brazil – Chris.urs-o / CC BY-SA

stew of beans, not cabbage, with beef and pork. Prepared in PortugalBrazil, and other former Portuguese colonies. Brazilian feijoada uses black beans.

The practice of cooking a meat stew with vegetables is a millenary Mediterranean tradition. It dates to the time the Romans colonized Iberia. Roman soldiers would bring this habit to every Latin settlement, all of the provinces of Romania, the Vulgar Latin speaking area of Europe.

This heritage is the source of many national and regional dishes of today’s Europe. The French cassoulet, the Milanese cassoeula from Lombardy, the Romanian fasole cu cârnați, the fabada asturiana from Northwestern Spain, and the Spanish cocido madrileño and olla podrida derive from it. Non-Romanic regions with similar traditions might descend from this millennial Roman soldiers’ dish like the Polish Golonka.

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