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Castelluccio Lentils and Cotechino

Castelluccio Lentils and Cotechino


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Clean the pork rind, pass it over a flame, and scrub it. Grind it together with the rest of the meat and blend the resulting mixture with the other ingredients. Using a funnel, pack the meat into the casings. Take care not to leave air bubbles while stuffing. Avoid pressing too much, however, to prevent the casing from breaking.

Tie the upper end of the casing with several knots, cut the string, and tie a single knot about every 10 inches, leaving 1 loop to hang each cotechino. Cut the casing and repeat the operation, creating several cotechini. Hang them by their loops and let them dry at least one day. When dried, cotechino may be stored for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. It is then boiled before eating.

Put the cotechino in cold water and let stand for a few hours. Then prick it with a fork all over (so that it does not explode while cooking), change the water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it begins to boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook 1 hour for each 10 ounces. Let it stand in its cooking water for about 15 minutes before serving.


Another Year in Recipes

Happy New Year! Today starts my second Year in Recipes. In 2010, each of my weekly posts was about trying a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks. This year, I’ll broaden my scope. The time spent making new recipes from old books served its purpose: It got me back into my books and back into kitchen exploration. Now I want to mix things up a bit more – some old favorites, along with new dishes.

I’m starting with my own recipes for lentils and cotechino, a much-loved New Year’s Day dish. In Italy, lentils are traditional for January 1st. The idea is that lentils look like coins, and the more of them you eat on the first day of the year, the more money you’ll have that year. It can’t hurt to try, can it?

There’s a recipe for stewed lentils in the first cookbook that Tom and I published, La Tavola Italiana. That was over 20 years ago, shockingly enough, and I’ve changed a few things since then. I used to soak lentils, the way you do dried beans, but now I find it isn’t necessary. I just pick them over and rinse them. I sauté carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and sage leaves in olive oil stir in the lentils and sauté briefly then add broth and cook gently, covered, until the lentils are tender. Cooking time varies greatly, depending on the age and type of lentils used. My favorites are the small brown Castelluccio lentils, from Umbria. Here is my current version of the recipe.

La Tavola Italiana also has a recipe for making cotechino, a big, luscious boiling sausage made from ground pork meat, pork fat, pork skin, and spices. Cotechino is much more readily available in butcher shops nowadays, but if you know the sausage as made in the north of Italy, you’ll find many American versions disappointing – which is why Tom and I developed our own. It’s quite a lot of work to make, albeit fun if you enjoy messing around in the kitchen.

Happily, for the past few years my local Citarella market has carried an imported Italian brand of cotechino, Levoni, that has the true, characteristic unctuousness and zesty flavor. It’s fully cooked, needing only to be heated in boiling water in its aluminum-foil pouch for 20 minutes. That’s a godsend, since to make it from scratch the sausage mixture has to be shaped into a fat cylinder, rolled up in a sheet of caul fat, aged in the refrigerator for 3 days, soaked in cold water for 8 hours, then drained and simmered in fresh water for 2 hours. Not exactly a spur-of-the-moment dish to make.

So for dinner on New Year’s Day I made a Levoni cotechino and my lentil recipe, with which we drank a 1990 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, and very good they all were, the bracing Sangiovese fruit and acidity of the wine making a lovely foil for the unctuous sausage and earthy lentils.

Now I’m just sitting back and waiting for the lentil-induced money to start pouring in.


An Italian New Year’s: Cotechino con lenticchie (Cotechino with Lentils)

New Year’s Eve for Italians—like so many other holidays—is marked by a large, festive meal, often an elegant seafood dinner, called the cenone di San Silvestro or cenone di Capodanno, the word ‘cenone‘ being Italian for ‘big supper’. For me, following the typical Italian meal service, a perfect primo (first course) would be an elegant Champagne Risotto, followed perhaps by a roasted fish dish. Dessert could be a tiramisù or montebianco.

Midnight is the time to break out a hearty platter of cotechino con le lenticchie, or Cotechino with Lentils. The cotechino, an extremely rich seasoned pork sausage from Emilia-Romagna, is boiled, sliced and served on top of a bed of gently braised lentils. Italian custom has it that if you start the New Year by eating these coin-shaped legumes, it will bring you prosperity. While most people just take a little dish of the stuff—remember, this is coming after you’ve had a major dinner—the more lentils you eat, the richer you will be. Or, at least, that is the theory…

While it may sound like culinary heresy, most people (and I do the same) buy a pre-cooked cotechino sold in a large vacuum-packed pouch. That makes life really easy. Aside from gently reheating the sausage, all you have do is to prepare the lentils and serve. Everything can be done ahead and brought out in time for the stoke of midnight.

And if having a rich sausage and lentils at midnight sounds a bit too much, you can always serve this dish as your main course on the Eve or even as your first big meal of the year on January 1.

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb.) lentils
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of fresh sage or rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A chunk of pancetta or a few slices of prosciutto, finely minced (optional)

Directions

Warming the Cotechino

Simmer the cotechino, still in its pouch, in enough water to cover for about 20-30 minutes to reheat it. The sausage is quite fatty and it needs to be hot enough to start melting that fat, which gives it a wonderfully unctuous texture and flavor. For a large cotechino, I find that a fish poacher is ideal an oval Dutch oven also works for smaller ones. You can keep the cotechino warm almost indefinitely until you are ready to eat. (For notes on preparing an uncooked cotechino or an American cotechino, see the Notes below.)

Preparing the Lentils

In the meanwhile, prepare the lentils. There are various ways to do this, but my personal favorite is the simplest:

Simmer the lentils in water with a sprig of thyme or sage or another aromatic herb and a clove of garlic until just barely tender.

In a separate pot, make a simple soffritto of onion (and if you like, some finely minced prosciutto or pancetta) in olive oil and butter until quite tender.

Strain and add your just cooked lentils to the soffritto, allowing them to simmer together for a minute or two.

Then add a ladleful or two of rich broth or the lentil cooking liquid or, best of all, some of the juice from the cotechino. Simmer for a few minutes more, long enough for the flavors to meld and the lentils to become entirely tender. Do not overcook the lentils or they will become rather stodgy.

Serving

When the lentils are just about done, carefully remove the cotechino from its pouch by cutting open up one side and allowing its contents—the cotechino itself and a fair amount of fatty juice—into a deep serving dish, preferably oval in shape to accommodate the cotechino comfortably. That juice has wonderful flavor: I like to add a ladleful or so to the lentils and let them absorb that flavor.

To serve, remove the cotechino to a cutting board and slice it thickly. Lay down a bed of the lentils in a large serving platter, then the cotechino slices in a pleasant arrangement on top of the lentils. You can, if you like—and I do—add a bit more of the cotechino juice on top of the lentils for even more lovely flavor and unctuousness.

Notes on Cotechino with Lentils

The cotechino is originally from Emilia-Romagna, specifically from the city of Modena. It is made from pork, fatback and pork rind, along with various spices. Some producers add wine as well as other flavorings and preservatives. Although originally a local specialty, thanks to modern industrial production and marketing, in modern times cotechino (like panettone, originally from Milan) has become a national holiday tradition.

Uncooked cotechini are available, or used to be back in the day, in Italian areas of New York and other big cities. To prepare an uncooked cotechino, prick the sausage all over with a pin. (Don’t use a fork as it creates holes that are too big. The skin may rupture and the stuffing, which is rather soft, may start to ooze out.) You then wrap the cotechino up in cheesecloth and tie it up with some cooking twine. Simmer the cotechino in enough water to cover it, 2 hours for a big cotechino, 45 minutes for a small one. The resulting broth can be added to the lentils for extra flavor.

By the way, cotechino is not the only kind of sausage eaten on New Years. Personally, I rather prefer the zampone, which is a pig’s trotter stuffed with the same mixture. The presentation is much more dramatic and the pig’s skin adds even more lusciousness to the final dish.

Variations

Of course, you can always use ‘regular’ Italian sausages for this dish. A lot of Italian-Americans I know do just that. Sauté them gently in some olive oil until golden brown and well cooked. Deglaze the pan with broth, some wine or just water, and add the liquid to the lentils.

As mentioned, there are various ways to make the lentils. In particular, many people prefer to use the classic soffritto italiano of onion, celery and carrot rather than just onion. But I personally find that the addition of carrot and celery for some reason gives the lentils an ‘off’ taste. I prefer the pure lentil flavor you get with a simple onion soffritto. Some recipes call for adding tomato which, to my mind, denatures the taste even more.

While lentils are obligatory on New Years, for other occasions cotechino also pairs very nicely with mashed potatoes or other legumes such as cannellini beans.

Other Italian New Year’s Traditions

New Year’s Eve is known in Italian as San Silvestro, after Pope Sylvester I (reign 314-335) who was buried on December 31. After Sylvester was canonized, the date became the liturgical feast of Saint Sylvester. Like others, Italians like to drink sparkling wine on New Years and enjoy firework displays. One old tradition was to throw out something old from your window at midnight to say ‘goodbye’ to the ending year. And they say that red underwear will bring good luck in the coming year.


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Lentils and Cotechino for New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! Today starts my second Year in Recipes. In 2010, each of my weekly posts was about trying a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks. This year, I’ll broaden my scope. The time spent making new recipes from old books served its purpose: It got me back into my books and back into kitchen exploration. Now I want to mix things up a bit more – some old favorites, along with new dishes.

I’m starting with my own recipes for lentils and cotechino, a much-loved New Year’s Day dish. In Italy, lentils are traditional for January 1st. The idea is that lentils look like coins, and the more of them you eat on the first day of the year, the more money you’ll have that year. It can’t hurt to try, can it?

There’s a recipe for stewed lentils in the first cookbook that Tom and I published, La Tavola Italiana. That was over 20 years ago, shockingly enough, and I’ve changed a few things since then. I used to soak lentils, the way you do dried beans, but now I find it isn’t necessary. I just pick them over and rinse them. I sauté carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and sage leaves in olive oil stir in the lentils and sauté briefly then add broth and cook gently, covered, until the lentils are tender. Cooking time varies greatly, depending on the age and type of lentils used. My favorites are the small brown Castelluccio lentils, from Umbria. Here is my current version of the recipe.

La Tavola Italiana also has a recipe for making cotechino, a big, luscious boiling sausage made from ground pork meat, pork fat, pork skin, and spices. Cotechino is much more readily available in butcher shops nowadays, but if you know the sausage as made in the north of Italy, you’ll find many American versions disappointing – which is why Tom and I developed our own. It’s quite a lot of work to make, albeit fun if you enjoy messing around in the kitchen.

Happily, for the past few years my local Citarella market has carried an imported Italian brand of cotechino, Levoni, that has the true, characteristic unctuousness and zesty flavor. It’s fully cooked, needing only to be heated in boiling water in its aluminum-foil pouch for 20 minutes. That’s a godsend, since to make it from scratch the sausage mixture has to be shaped into a fat cylinder, rolled up in a sheet of caul fat, aged in the refrigerator for 3 days, soaked in cold water for 8 hours, then drained and simmered in fresh water for 2 hours. Not exactly a spur-of-the-moment dish to make.

So for dinner on New Year’s Day I made a Levoni cotechino and my lentil recipe, with which we drank a 1990 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, and very good they all were, the bracing Sangiovese fruit and acidity of the wine making a lovely foil for the unctuous sausage and earthy lentils.

Now I’m just sitting back and waiting for the lentil-induced money to start pouring in.

P.S. Leftover lentils make a nice antipasto or first course, served warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and minced onion. So does leftover cotechino, sliced and served with a potato salad dressed with olive oil, wine vinegar, and chopped parsley.


Cotechino con Lenticchie (Cotechino Sausage with Lentils)

Symbolizing wealth and good fortune for the coming year, this hearty dish of cotechino sausage with lentils is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve in Italy – though it’s so delicious that we find ourselves reaching for this recipe year-round. Enjoy with mashed potatoes or lots of crusty bread for soaking up the juices.

Cotechino con Lenticchie (Cotechino Sausage with Lentils)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

3 pounds precooked cotechino sausage in casing (approximately 3 sausages)
2 cups lentils
6 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, or to taste
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh sage, minced
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the lentils and pour in just enough water to cover them. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover, and allow the lentils to simmer very gently until they are tender and creamy, 35 to 45 minutes. Check occasionally, and add water in very small amounts if the lentils begin to stick before they are fully cooked.

Fill a large pot halfway with water. Prick the cotechino in several places with a pin. (Don’t use a fork: the holes will be too large.) Add the sausages to the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the sausages until you see the fat in the casing change from a solid to a liquid and the sausages begin to plump up, 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the sausages. Remove the sausages from the water, and place them on a dry towel.

Pour the remaining ½ cup olive oil into a large pan, and set over medium heat. Scatter the garlic cloves in the pan. Cook until light brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and discard. Scatter the chili pepper flakes in the infused oil, increase the heat, and immediately place the sausages in the pan. (The oil may spatter stand back!)

Cook the sausages, rotating them frequently, until they’re lightly browned on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan, allow them to rest for a few minutes, then slice them into ¼ inch rounds. To serve, place some of the lentils in individual serving bowls, and top each portion with a few slices of cotechino.


Castelluccio Lentils and Cotechino - Recipes

1 zampone weighing about 1kg
1 cotechino weighing about 600g
200g castelluccio lentils or brown lentils
1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
1 white onion
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small leek
100g unsmoked pancetta
Small bunch of sage
2 bay leaves
2tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

Soak the lentils in water for half an hour. Finely chop the vegetables. Heat half the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables and the pancetta. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the lentils and the herbs, tied together, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until everything is well mixed and the lentils start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Don't season at this point, as salt will make the lentils harden up.

Add a litre of stock, keeping the remainder hot on the hob. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft and there is very little liquid left in the pan.

Remove the pancetta and keep the lentils on one side (keep the pan covered to stop them from drying out).

Once you are ready to serve the cotechino, warm up the lentils. Place them in a large oval dish. Open up the packet of zampone and chop it into 1cm thick slices and place it on top of the lentils. Do the same with the cotechino. Serve immediately.

Questo è un piatto tradizionale di Natale in provincia di Modena. Cotechino è un delizioso salame cotto e zampone di maiale è un trotter farcito con carne di maiale macinata. È possibile per corrispondenza sia dal Valvona & Crolla a Edimburgo (0131-556 6066 www.valvonacrolla.co.uk) o tramite altri specialista italiano gastronomie. Se non è possibile ottenere di cotechino quindi non preoccupatevi, questa ricetta funziona ancora senza di essa.

1 zampone del peso di circa 1kg
1 cotechino del peso di circa 600g
200g di lenticchie di Castelluccio lenticchie o marrone
1,5 litri di brodo vegetale o di pollo
1 cipolla bianca
1 carota
1 gambo di sedano
1 piccolo porro
100g di pancetta unsmoked
Mazzetto di salvia
2 foglie di alloro
2tbsp di girasole o olio vegetale

Asciugare le lenticchie in acqua per una mezz'ora. Tritare finemente le verdure. Calore mezzo di olio d'oliva in una padella e aggiungere le verdure tritate e la pancetta. Cuocere per 5-10 minuti, finché le verdure sono molli, ma non di colore. Aggiungere le lenticchie e le erbe aromatiche, legate insieme, e far cuocere per 5 minuti, mescolando fino a quando tutto è ben amalgamato e le lenticchie iniziare a bastone per il fondo della padella. Non stagione, a questo punto, come farà il sale indurisce fino lenticchie.

Aggiungere un litro di scorta, mantenendo per il resto a caldo sul piano cottura. Portare ad ebollizione e poi abbassate il calore e far bollire per 45 minuti, fino a che le lenticchie sono morbide e non vi è molto poco liquido lasciato nella padella.

Togliere la pancetta e mantenere le lenticchie su un lato (tenere il tegame coperto per impedire loro di essiccazione).

Una volta che siete pronti a servire il cotechino, le lenticchie di riscaldamento. Luogo in un grande piatto ovale. Aprire il pacchetto di zampone e tagliare in fette spesse 1 centimetro e porlo in cima alla lenticchie. Fate lo stesso con il cotechino. Servite immediatamente.


Cotechino Con Lenticchie Recipeby Café Fiorello’s Chef Raffaele Solinas

On December 30th, I went to a food demo at Café Fiorello featuring the traditional Italian soup, Cotechino and Lenticchie, that is eaten on New Year’s Eve for prosperity and good luck. Café Fiorello’s executive chef Raffaele Solinas demonstrated how to make the meal and handed out samples to passersby.

I took a friend along with me and both of us enjoyed the soup immensely. Let’s just say that black eyed peas are no longer my favorite bean for the New Year. Although the beans were flavorful, it was the sausage that I couldn’t get enough of. I told Chef Solinas that finding the correct sausage is always the most challenging part for me in replicating recipes after attending a a special food event. I then asked where he bought his sausage. “I made it,” he replied…”I’ll send you the recipe.” (See that’s why I love chefs so much – their generosity of spirit.)

Although I wasn’t able to get the recipe in time for the new year, Chef Solinas was kind enough to send it to me. Now I (and you) have it on file for next year! Not only did Chef Solinas share his pork sausage and lentils recipe, but he also shared a little of the history behind the tradition…

The History

Cotechino or Cotechino di Modena, also sometimes spelled cotecchino or coteghino, is a fresh sausage made from pork, fatback, and pork rind, and comes from Modena, Italy, where it has PGI status. Zampone Modena is closely related and also has PGI status.

As Served with Polenta and Lentils:
Cotechino dates back to around 1511 to Gavello, where, whilst besieged, the people had to find a way to preserve meat and use the less tender cuts, so made the cotechino.

Mirandola developed its own specialty enveloped in a hollowed out pig’s trotter, named the Zampone.

By the 18th century it had become more popular than the yellowish sausage that had been around at the time, and in the 19th century entered mass production in and around the area.

Cotechino is often served with lentils or cannellini beans with a sauce alongside mashed potatoes, especially around the New Year.

The Recipe:
COTECHINO CON LENTICCHIE RECIPE
(COTECHINO WITH LENTILS)

Recipe by Raffaele Solinas

This is the most traditional dish of all for New Year’s Eve supper. The lentils represent the coins soon to befall all who consume the dish within an hour of midnight.

Ingredients
1 celery stalk,1 spanish onion, 1 carrot, 2 or 3 bay leaves(bouillon)
8 ounces dried lentil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
12 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large (about 2 pounds) cotechino sausage

Directions
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the lentils, garlic, and sage. Cook the lentils at a gentle boil until tender yet still firm (about 20 minutes). Drain and place in a medium bowl.

2. Add the olive oil and vinegar to the lentils and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Prick the sausage several times with a pin. Place in a large pot of cold water 1 celery stalk, the Spanish onion, 1 carrot and bay leaves (bouillon). Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a very low boil. Cover the pot and cook for 1 ½ hours. Drain.

4. Spread the marinated lentil on a large serving platter to form a bed for the cotechino. Slice the cotechino into ¼ -inch

(And for the super-cooks, Chef Solinas shared the ingredients for his homemade cotechino…)
Ingredient – Quantity(g) – % of Meat+Fat+Skin
Pork shoulder meat – 1645 – 35
Pork belly (about 60/40 fat/lean) – 1645 – 35
Pork Skin (fatless) – 1362 – 29
Salt – 82 – 1.7
Cure #1 – 7 – 0.15
Dextrose – 18.4 – 0.4
Coriander powder – 1.7 – 0.037
Nutmeg – 0.5g – 0.011
Clove – 1 – 0.022
Mace – 0.5 – 0.011
Cinnamon – 1 – 0.022
Cayenne – 1.4 – 0.03
Black pepper (cracked large) – 6 – 0.129
White pepper (ground fine) – 6 – 0.129

Now, I see why people refer to cooking as a science. Those are some precise measurements. Give me a little while and I will be able to figure out how to make my own sausage too! Meanwhile, I’m going to have to go back to Café Fiorello to get my authentic Italian cravings satisfied!

Café Fiorello
1900 Broadway (between 63rd and 64th Street)
New York, NY 10023
www.cafefiorello.com

I know that the New Year has come and gone for this year, but did you eat anything traditional on January 1st? If so, what was it?

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My New Year’s Eve: Friends, Lentils, Cotechino, Tombola, and “Something” Red!

Festa di San Silvestro, named after Pope Sylvester I, is how in Italy we refer to New Year’s Eve.

Did you know that were the ancient Romans that in 153 B.C. moved the start of the year from the Spring equinox to January 1?

In Italy, traditionally the Veglione di Capodanno (New Year’s Party) lasts all-night and typically starts with the Cenone (big supper) which is then followed by a big party with music, dancing and games.

When I was a child, after the Cenone, friends would often come over for desserts and to wait for the Mezzanotte (Midnight). The table was cleared to make room to play Tombola (Italian version of Bingo), Mercante in Fiera (“Merchant at the Fair”, a traditional family game played with 2 identical decks of illustrated cards which are auctioned for final prize), and Sette e mezzo (“Seven and a half”, a game played with Neapolitan cards and that is similar to blackjack).


A Mezzanotte (at Midnight) the bottles of champagne were popped open for the brindisi (toast) while everyone was cheering on the new year with the “Buon Anno!” wishes. We would then run by the windows to watch the display of fireworks, firecrackers and flares.

The best botti di Capodanno (New Year’s fireworks and firecrackers) I have witnessed were on the water of the Amalfi Coast, from the terrace of the Hotel Saraceno where I spent a beautiful night with my husband, and my brother & sister-in-laws It was December 31, 1987.

Whether at the fanciest venue or at home with friends and family, no New Year’s Eve celebration in Italy would be complete without the lenticchie e cotechino (lentils and cotechino – a type of cooked sausage).

Because of their resemblance to coins the lentils are a symbol of prosperity. To ensure the good fortune they must be eaten within one hour of Midnight.

The most valuable Italian lentils are grown in the high plane of Castelluccio di Norcia, in the region of Umbria, at 4,500 ft above sea level. Both the climate and the soil contribute to the high quality of the legume. In 1997 the lenticchie di Castelluccio have received the IPG (Protected Geographic Indication) recognition.

The lentils are typically served with pork, symbol of the richness in life therefore, Cotechino and/or Zampone are the perfect complements to the lentils.

The cotechino, is a big sausage made with a mixture of ground pork, pork rinds, and spices.
An alternative to the cotechino is the zampone where the same mixture is stuffed into a boned pig’s foreleg.

Both products are typical of Modena, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The zampone originated around the 1500 thanks to the ingenuity of the Modenesi who, being under siege, had to find a way to preserve what it was available.

Tonight, I am celebrating the New Year’s Eve with a potluck dinner with some Italian amici (friends). I am preparing the lenticchie and cotechino, we will play Tombola and Mercante in Fiera and we will toast the New Year with My favorite Italian Spumante (sparkling wine), “Ferrari“!

Cotechino is not easy to find in my area however, I was able to buy a pre-cooked one at an Italian grocery store in Wheaton, MD. The advantage of buying a pre-cooked cotechino is that it only requires to simmer in warm water for 20-25 minutes. This will ensure the melting of the fat which will give this special sausage a very earthy flavor. You need to keep the cotechino warm until you are ready to eat.


I was in NYC two weeks ago at the Italian market EATALY, where I did find the lenticchie di Castelluccio. Even if I love chefs Batali and Lidia, I was not going to drop $15 for 1/2 pound of lentils. That would have defied the purpose of the lentils . . . to bring you fortune and prosperity! My organic green lentils would do just fine!

RICETTA (Recipe)

MY LENTICCHIE STUFATE E COTECHINO (braised lentils and cotechino)

1 pound dry green lentils
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 large carrot chopped into large pieces
1 celery stalk
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1 slice of pancetta 1/2 inch tick finely minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Before you start sort and rinse the lentils.

In a large pot warm the oil and sautéed the onion, the carrot, the celery and the pancetta.

Add the tomato paste and a little bit of warm water and stir to dissolve the tomato paste.

After 3-4 minutes add the lentils and let them coat with the condiment for 4-5 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the lentils, add salt, cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 1-1/2 hours.

Check frequently to make sure that the water doesn’t dry out completely. Add warm water if necessary.

When the lentils are just about done, remove the carrots and celery.

Also, at this time, remove the cotechino from the warm water and place on an oval serving dish.

Slice the cotechino into 1/4 inch thick slices. The juice from the cotechino will accumulate in the bottom of the dish and will serve as additional condiment for the lentils.

Spoon the lentils around the cotechino and serve immediately after Midnight!

I almost forgot about the “something” red!

Typically Italian is the tradition, on New Year’s Eve, to wear something rosso (red), particularly lingerie.

It appears that already in ancient Rome, under Octavian Augustus, during the Roman New Year, women and men used to wear something red because this color represented power, love, health, and fertility.

So, don’t waste any time, cook your lentils, get yourself something red and party your night away into the New Year!


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