- A cotechino weighing a pound (500 g)
- 1 pound (400 g) green lentils
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- A bay leaf
How to make Cotechino con Lenticchie:
If you have the industrial kind follow the directions on the package, which usually call for it to be boiled in its pouch for a half hour or so. If you have the raw variety, such as the one from A.G.Ferrari, prick it all over, then put it in a pot of cold water (a fish boiler is perfect here) and bring the pot to a slow simmer.
Cook over a low flame for 2-3 hours; during this time the cotechino will give off quite a bit of fat, and shrink considerably. Serve the cotechino, cut into half-inch slices and serve it at once — they’re not so good cold, nor do they take well to reheating.
To make the soup, which is from the Abruzzi region, you’ll need the ingredients listed above. Soak the lentils overnight. The next day drain them, transfer them to a pot, and cover with lightly salted cold water.
Bring the pot to a simmer, add the remaining ingredients except the cotechino, and cover. Simmer gently for about 2 hours. While the lentils are heating in their water put the pricked cotechino in a second pot with cold water sufficient for it to float (assuming you’re starting with a raw cotechino).
Bring the pot to a slow boil and cook it for about 2 1/2 hours. Follow the directions on the box for the partially cooked version (usually cook for about 30 minutes).
Serve the soup hot, with half-inch slices of cotechino.
Regional recipe from Emilia-Romagna
The Cotechino-lentil combination is one of the most classic in Italian cooking. A cotechino is a rather gelatinous pork sausage about 3 inches in diameter and 8 long, and is very much a winter thing, traditionally served with the lentils that augur good fortune on New Year’s Eve.
Zampone is made with the same kind of pork meat fitted in a pork leg, making it very tender. In Italy cotechini and zamponi are sold both raw and partially cooked, Yndella sells on the Internet the cooked kind, with overnight shipping.
Cotechino and zampone are the main characters of the feste natalizie (Christmas Holydays), even if they are used mostly at fine dell’anno (New Year Eve). We are speaking of zampone and of cotechino Modena, two specialties of which Emilia Romagna is most proud. First came the cotechino, then the zampone.
The idea to put the pork meat in the pork leg were the inhabitants of Mirandola, the city of the famous Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.