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Cassoeula Recipe | The Porkiest Italian Pork Dish

Particularly in the past (although this is often still the case today), when an Italian family killed a precious pig it was crucial not to waste even the smallest scrap of meat. The prime cuts were used to make sausages, salami, prosciutto, and other preserved charcuterie to last the year. But there were plenty of “poorer” meat available, such as ears, feet, skin and snouts.


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Cassoeula Recipe | The Porkiest Italian Pork Dish

In Lombardy, a dish was invented to use these exotic cuts and transform them into a delicacy: cassoeula. The meat is stewed for many hours with savoy cabbage, and usually served over a steaming plate of polenta. It’s definitely a recipe for brave, adventurous eaters but the curious will be rewarded with a fantastic dish!



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CASSOEULA RECIPE


Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Cook Time: 3 ½ to 4 hours


For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 pig ears

  • 1 pork trotter, cut into 3-4 pieces

  • One piece of pork skin, about 10 inches square (25 cm)

  • 2 tablespoons (12 g) whole black peppercorns

  • 5 to 10 bay leaves

  • 3 to 5 cloves

  • Salt

  • 6 pork spare ribs

  • 2 large Italian sausages

  • 4 cups (945 ml) beef broth (you likely won’t need all of it, but better to have extra on hand)

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter

  • ¼ white onion, sliced

  • 1 rib celery, diced

  • ½ large carrot, diced

  • 1 cup (240 ml) white wine

  • 1 ½ large savoy cabbage

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tomato paste


Thoroughly clean the pig ears, trotter and skin before placing them in a large pot of water. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and a small handful of salt. Bring the water up to a boil. Once the water begins to bubble, boil the meat for 45 minutes.


Meanwhile, place the ribs and sausages into a non-stick pan over medium heat (you can do this in batches). Without adding any extra fat, cook the meat until lightly browned on all sides. Set aside for later, discarding any excess fat from the pan.



When the ears, trotter and skin are cooked, drain them. Cut the ears into thin strips (about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide, or 12.5 x 2.5 cm) and cut the skin into strips as well (about 5 inches long and 2 inches wide, or 12.5 x 5 cm). No need to be precise, here!


Heat the broth in a small saucepan—it doesn’t need to boil, it should just be warm. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy pot and sauté the sliced onion until tender and slightly transparent.


Add the ears, trotter, skin and ribs into the pot, along with the diced celery and carrot. Stir all together. Add the white wine, bring the liquid to a simmer, and let the wine reduce until the smell of alcohol has dissipated—about 5 minutes.


Add about 1 cup (240 ml) of warm broth—or enough to keep a healthy simmer going in the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let the broth simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the cabbage by removing the leafs from the core (which can be discarded) and tearing them into smaller pieces.


Add the cabbage leaves into the pot so that they cover the meat and sprinkle them with a few big pinches of salt. Cover the pot completely and let the cabbage cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it has wilted. Meanwhile, dissolve the tomato paste in ½ cup (120 ml) of the warm broth.


When the cabbage has wilted, stir the leaves to mix them into the meat. Add the tomato paste/broth mixture. You want enough broth in the pot to keep a simmer going but not enough to make the dish too soupy. As the cassoeula cooks, add more as necessary.


Cover the pot and cook the meat over medium/low heat for 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut each of the sausages into 3 pieces and stir these into the pot (along with more broth, if necessary). Cover the pot again and cook the meat for an additional hour, or until the ribs are very tender, almost fall-off-the-bone. As the dish nears completion, taste the brothy “sauce” and salt it to taste, if necessary.


Serve warm and, if you like, over polenta. Buon appetito!



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