Cotechino Sausage with Lentils
Though our recipe is a little late for your New Year’s celebration, we thought we’d go ahead and share this traditional New Year’s dish that combines two of Italy’s culinary symbols for good luck, the lentil and the pig. The lentils are said to represent coins that will come your way in the New Year – some say that you have to eat this dish within an hour of midnight, but we believe luck isn’t that time directed.
Use small lentils for this recipe, such as Castelluccio or Colfiorito (both from Umbria), French lentils du Puy, or the Spanish pardina variety. These types taste best and hold their shape well when cooked.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
2 1/2 pounds uncooked cotechino sausage, soaked in abundant cold water at least 4 hours or overnight, or 2 (500-gram) packages cooked cotechino (see note below)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped plus whole celery leaves for garnish
1 small garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
1 1/2 cups small lentils, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
If using uncooked cotechino, drain cotechino, place in a large pot, cover with 3 quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and cook for 2 1/2 hours. For packaged cotechino, cook in simmering water for 30 to 40 minutes.
When cotechino is about an hour from being cooked, or, if using packaged cotechino, while it is simmering, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add celery and garlic; cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add lentils and bay leaf; stir to combine. Add water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and adding liquid from cotechino, as necessary, to keep lentils covered, until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain any liquid from pot; remove and discard garlic and bay leaf; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon lentils onto serving plates.
Transfer sausage to a cutting board and cut into 1/ 3-inch-thick slices; arrange on top of lentils. Garnish with celery leaves. Serve warm.
Note: Look for fresh cotechino at Italian butcher shops and salumerie around the holidays. Advance orders may be required, so it’s best to call ahead. Pre-cooked cotechino is available online at amazon.com
Recipe from La Cucina Italiana