Cotechino is a rich, beautifully spiced sausage made primarily of cuts from the pig’s head. It’s a traditional Italian New Year’s meal, meaning now is the perfect time for us Southern Hemisphere folk to dig in. It couples perfectly with the nuttiness of lentils, the acidity of a salsa verde and a Nebbiolo (preferably from the Piedmont region).
(2 hours) Serves 2-4
4 cotechino, soaked in water for a few hours, then drained
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
100gm naturally cured bacon, coarsely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200gm small green lentils (1 cup)
3 sprigs of thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
125ml nebbiolo (½ cup)
125ml chicken stock (½ cup)
1 slice day-old ciabatta or sourdough (20gm)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped (firmly packed)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, yolk only
250 ml extra-virgin olive oil (1 cup)
To serve: crusty bread
Place drained cotechino in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour, then stand in water for 15 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to colour. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden; add lentils, thyme and bay leaf and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add nebbiolo and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, then add 1 cup of cotechino liquid and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Season to taste, cover and keep warm.
For salsa verde, place bread in a bowl with vinegar, stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze vinegar from bread. Place in a food processor with parsley and garlic. Add hard-boiled egg yolk and pulse to combine, then gradually add olive oil in a thin stream until well combined. Season to taste. Makes ½ cup. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. (Also goes well with steak)
To serve, spoon lentils onto plates, slice cotechino and arrange slices on top, and serve with salsa verde and bread to the side.
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