Because cooking is what she does best, even if it might come as a surprise that we don’t visit my inlaws as much as you’d think. It’s not that we live very far away but weekends, and nice ones at that, are always penciled in with hiking trails, sagra-chasing or general work around the house. When we do visit my inlaws for lunch, it’s always on a very empty stomach for MotH’s mom never fails to fix us a great feast. Our special request this time around was casseula, a thick dish of braised pork ribs, pig skin, sausage and cabbage. It represents the best of traditional comfort foods in Lombardia and you simply can not let a winter go by without partaking in at least one meal of casseula and (preferably) polenta.
Mama! Ho tanta fame!!! (Mom! I’m really hungry!)
Usually by the time we arrive, MotH’s mother has already finished everything from antipasti to dessert. Just my luck that on this occasion we got there hours ahead of lunchtime. Finally, FINALLY, I get an opportunity to witness my mother-in-law working her magic in the kitchen.
Casseula is a recipe that is typically made to serve a large crowd. My mother-in-law engages the burners from 2 small stoves to be able to accommodate wide cooking pots. One is used to brown the meat while the other is for cooking the cabbage.
An important detail about how she serves this – plates are kept warmed in the oven before use. With the amount of pork fat in this dish, cold plates do nothing to keep that lard flowing tasty and fluid. And this is why my father-in-law says that you should always serve a good red wine to stand up to this hearty meal.
Christmas all over again
Since our xmas was spent in Trentino, holiday presents were still forthcoming. From the folks it’s always a large basket filled with all sorts of edible treats: olives, olive oil, chocolates, all kinds of nuts, limoncello, porcini mushrooms in oil/dried, torrone, grappa, cotechino, cheese, artichokes preserved in oil, salame, leftover casseula and baked tarts and cookies to stock our freezer.