• 2-3 lbs. Cotechino*
• 3 tbs. olive oil*
• 1/3 cup onions – finely chopped
• 1 carrot – finely chopped
• 1 celery stalk – finely chopped
• 1-2 garlic cloves – peeled
• 1 ½ cups small lentils – rinsed and drained*
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Mustard for serving*
If Cotechino is uncooked, drain it and put in large pot of cold water. Water should completely cover Cotechino. Bring slowly to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 3 hours. For packaged (precooked) Cotechino just simmer for 1 hour. When Cotechino is almost cooked heat the oil in a medium heavy bottom pot and add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until just getting soft.
Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes until garlic is flavorful making sure not to brown or burn. Add lentils and stir well until all is incorporated. Add enough cold water or Cotechino water, to cover lentils by about 1 inch.
Cook for 30 – 45 minutes over medium heat covered, until lentils are soft. Stir once in a while and add Cotechino water if getting too dry. This will also add extra flavor. When lentils are tender remove from heat, drain of any extra water and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon lentils into serving bowl. Slice Cotechino into slices thick enough not to fall apart and arrange on a platter. Serve warm and accompany by mustard.
Cotechino is a rich and wonderfully spiced sausage and makes for a hearty winter dish. However, for Italians it is a New Year’s Day traditional meal because it combines the two symbols of good luck – the lentil which being coined shape represents a promise of wealth in the year to come and the pig which is believed to be an animal that eats while moving forward symbolizes a year of hope and promise and good fortune.
In our house we eat Cotechino several times during the cold months. While eliminating the lentils, sometimes, we add quartered cabbage and peeled potatoes to the Cotechino pot during the last part of the cooking process.
Buon Appetito e Buon Anno Nuovo!
*Available at the Market