Cotechino is a large, Italian pork sausage traditionally served to celebrate the New Year. Indigenous to Modena (yes, that Modena – home to the great balsamic vinegar), its thick casing is pierced all over with a knife, after which it's gently braised in a pot of lentils until done. Sound good, right? But wait, there's more.
After the sausage is cooked, it's sliced into round "coins," which are then fried crisp in a pan, and used to garnish the lentils. Everything about this recipe sounds great, so when Michele and I happened upon a nice, fat cotechino in Chris Cosentino's Boccalone, in the San Francisco Ferry Building, I knew the cranberry bean and Swiss chard soup I was making that day was going to have a guest star.
As you'll hear me whine about in the video, a huge rainstorm hit the city right in the middle of the recipe, and I didn’t make the correct adjustments to the camera. I tried to lighten the film, but it still looked horrible, so most of the soup making part of this is not shown. Here's what you missed: I made bean soup, and wilted some Swiss chard in it.
That said, this post is not about the soup, it's about how to use the cotechino. The exact same procedure shown here in all its dimly lit glory, can be used for almost any vegetable or bean soup/stew. I loved it with this simple cranberry bean ragout, but will try it with the traditional lentils next time…even if I have to wait another year. Enjoy!
1 pot of simmering lentils or beans
My soup contained:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 pound cranberry beans
1 quart chicken broth
water as needed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
small sprig rosemary and thyme
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and torn
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
View the complete recipe