In wintertime, cassoeula is the ultimate comfort food in Lombardy. Pork and cabbage are the primary ingredients and the recipe varies from area to area. When my mother-in-law makes this she cooks enough to feed an army, but if there are any leftovers it’s a dish that freezes well for future meals. My husband insists that the only way to eat this is when it’s piping hot, accompanied by warm polenta, and a good red wine.
Cassoeula serves 4-6
1/4 cup butter
1 lb. of small pork sausages
1½ lbs. pork ribs (like those used for grilling on the barbecue
1/2 lb. pork skin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 lbs. savoy cabbage, cut into strips and rinsed
salt and pepper
Melt butter together with a generous splash of olive oil in a very large dutch oven or stew pot. Add the pork sausages and ribs; cook until lightly browned on all sides. Add the pork skin. Add the onions and saute until translucent.* Add the carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Lightly season with salt, then cover and continue to cook over medium-low heat for another 20 minutes, adding water if necessary so that the bottom does not burn or stick. Add the cabbage, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for another hour, checking from time to timeso that the bottom does not scorch. Add water as necessary to maintain moisture and to avoid burning but you don’t want it to be like a soup. Ideally the cassoeula is ready when the meat on the pork ribs is fork tender. When the cassoeula is done, check once again for seasonings. Serve immediately with warm polenta.
*When the onions are translucent, you can do the optional step of adding a splash of grappa, cognac, or 1/2 cup of wine.