Cassoeula in Brianza
Cassoeula in Brianza, history and variations
The Cassoeula in Brianza has deep roots in agricultural tradition. It is prepared with pork scraps (the snout, ears feet, tail, skin or ribs) and savoy cabbage, which is widespread in the Lombard countryside.
It is a quite tasty and at the same time nutritious and hearty dish that is particularly useful for facing cold winters. Peasants from the Po Valley had to make the best of what was available at the time and get most out of the less appreciated cuts of pork.
Cassouela has been traditionally linked to the celebrations of Sant'Antonio Abate, which takes place on January 17th. This date marks the end of the swine-slaughtering season. This is why it is often called the dish of the Sant'Antonio Festival.
The legend says…
There are several theories regarding the origins of its name. ono diverse le teorie sull'origine del nome. The most reliable ones link it to te kitchen tools used for preparing it: the cassoeu (ladle in Milanese dialect), or the "casseruola", the pan in which it is cooked.
The "modern" cassoeula recipe originates in the early XXth century, but goes back to ancient times. It is said that it can be traced back to the late XVIth century when Milan was under Spanish rule: this dish would be the result of an affair between a Spanish soldier and a Milanese maiden, who worked as a cook for a noble family. She was charged with the task of preparing supper for an important occasion, but the pantry was alomst empty. The soldier come to her aid, teaching her a recipe for using scrapped pork cuts. The dish was such a resounding success that the young cook fawned over the soldier.
Le casoeula l'ha da vess tacchenta!
Just like with every other traditional dish, the cassoeula recipe varies depending of which part of the Lombardy Region you are. In Monza for instance, this dish is considerably drier compared to how it is made in Milan. Pig feet are never used in Como, but its head is a common ingredient, while in Pavia spare ribs are preferred.
In any case, an old Lombard saying goes: la casoeûla l'ha da vess ben tacchenta e minga sbrodolada e sbrodolenta, that is, the cassoeula should be sticky and its sauce must never be too runny.
Click on the drop-down texts below to read our proposed recipe for making this appetizing dish.