We near closer to Mother’s Day here in America and I have been thinking about my mother a lot. I always do, but lately, perhaps because I have decided to do a book of her recipes, she has been more present in my mind. What I am remembering today is her copper pot.
When I was young, every family in our town had one good copper pot. Eventually, they gave way to pentole smaltata (enameled pots), but I most remember my mother’s huge copper pot or tecia de rame in her Veneto dialect. My mother spoke both the Veneto and Furlan dialects as well as regular Italian. She created magic in that copper pot.
After September meant duck season. My mother would boil the legs with herbs and water until they made a rich, delicious broth. The breast she would sear, saying as she did so, “Gira e regira.” It meant sear and sear again on the other side in Veneto. She would do this very quickly. A quick sear on each side of the duck and she would tell me that if you cooked it too long, it would become tough. Her duck breast was always incredibly juicy, tasted rich and herby from the rosemary she added. To this day, my standard for a well-prepared duck breast, is that of my mother’s.
The blood of the duck she would simmer at a very low temperature in her copper pot. She would then set it aside. The liver, stomach, feet and wings of the duck would go into a stew that simmered for hours in her big copper pot. Just before serving she would add some of the congealed cooked blood, that she’d cut into cubes and sautee with onions and vinegar. She called it minusans or leftovers in dialect. She’d scoop that aromatic and wonderful stew out of the pot and serve it over soft polenta.
I remember and now as I tell you the story of her food, in memory, my hand reaches up to my chin and wipes the saliva that forms. Even the memories of meals created in her copper pot are mouth-watering and delicious.