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When I moved to Milan, one of the things that really impressed me is that here, unlike Palermo, you can eat anything.

In the sense that there are people from all over the world, and places where you can taste the dishes of all Italian cities and all countries of the world.

Wandering around the city it was even easier to find a good sandwich with spleen, or an excellent fried pizza, rather than a good cutlet or, an unpronounceable name for me, the cassoeula.

Perhaps because, as some jokingly say: “the Milanese do not exist, they are an invention of the southerners to try to keep the people of the province away“.

So, at least for the first few months, I had no traditional Milanese cuisine until we met her, Ilaria.

Ilaria is our age and apparently she is the same as all young women in their thirties, but she hides a secret. Ilaria has been Milanese for generations and besides she has dispelled the above myth, she has grandmother Elvira who cooks strictly Milanese, and she cooks it very well.

So one Sunday when I was on duty, I received a call from his wife announcing:

Tonight cassoeula!

– But what is ‘casso‘ called? We don’t know how to do it, and then I know that it must be made the day before!

– No, trust me, cassoeula tonight!

I went home intrigued and intimidated, and actually found the much-dreamed delicacy in a lunch box complete with yellow polenta to accompany it.

-You know Ilaria called me and told me that her grandmother had prepared the cassoeula and that if I wanted to taste it I could go and get it. And they made me this schiscetta (the mess tin, but that’s another story!) For you too.

What to say? An unforgettable experience!

Certainly because it is a good dish, indeed very good, but above all because it was full of the condiment of the welcome that is so good for a couple of naïve newly arrived people.

Needless to say, after some time I too tried to prepare my version of the cassoeula, certainly with much poorer results than my grandmother, Elvira, but quite acceptable.

Especially because every time I prepare it I think of Ilaria who calls us to let us taste her grandmother’s cassoeula, and a feeling of gratitude rises and I remember that proverb that says “Milan col coeur in man“, yes, absolutely true!

Recipe of Milanese cassoeula

Ingredients:

  • Various cuts of pork (ribs, rind, feet, snout)
  • Verzellini (typical Milanese pork sausages)
  • Chopped carrot, celery and onion
  • Laurel
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cabbage
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red Wine (Barbera or Bonarda possibly).

You start with cleaning the cabbage thoroughly and tearing the leaves into pieces, cleaning the rinds and the pig’s foot thoroughly, scraping and burning any bristles present.

Then in a large pot, boil the pork for a few minutes to slightly degrease it.

At this point you need a very large casserole, where in you put plenty of extra virgin olive oil, brown the chopped carrot, celery and onion. Then add all the previously drained meat, the herbs and some bay leaves, brown the meat and then deglaze with plenty of red wine.

When the wine has evaporated, add the cabbage, mix everything, cover with the vegetable broth and let it go over a low heat until the broth has gone.

Remember that the cassoeula must be thick and not broth.

When it is ready, let it rest in a cool and dry place until the next day. Then heat and serve accompanied with yellow polenta.

Enjoy your meal and, if you come to Milan, taste the cassoeula which is hot and tasty like the heart of the Milanese.

To be served with an Oltrepo ‘Pavese: Barbera or Bonarda. Or Buttafuoco.

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