Monday, January 10, 2011

Cotechino - Happy New Year All Over Again!

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 cotechino
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


Jason said...

Happy New Year Chef John!!!

I notice that you crisped up 5 coins but plated your dish using 3 coins. Michele only gets 2? :)

My 2011 food wish is that you keep the Food Wishes coming. Good luck in 2011.


blogagog said...

Is it ok to disagree with you? Because this is the second most awful (or should I say offal?) sausage ever created after black pudding. It barely beats out beef spleen for disgustingness.

I love your recipes, Chef John, but not this one. You really need to mention how unpleasant it smells when it's cooking, and how it tastes worse than it smells. It's really a sausage for the English, or anyone who thinks kidneys taste and smell good.

Chef John said...

Not sure what you were fed, but this cotechino smelled good, and tasted great! Have you had Boccalone's?

Rita said...

you said it correctly, ku-te-kino.

Rita said...

correction: ku-te-chino. sorry.

Digital Photography Fan said...

This looks sooo delicious....can't wait to try it!!

Anonymous said...

Another great recipe!

Have you considered using a pressure cooker? They are a great way to cook dried beans.

(I enjoyed your recent excursion into the world of pressure cookers, and would like to see more.)


Arlene said...

I am such a fan, thanks for great tips and posts, you must spend hours filming and editing!

Chef John said...

That's ALL i do!! ;-)

michellefillion said...

i finally started my own site. check it out if you have time. i love you chef john!

erika said...

Hi,I'm an Italian girl, and I must say I really like this site, it's full of delicious ideas and recipes! I also must admit that you, chef John, are always well informed about the original version of the italian recipes you propose..but..this time..could I dare to post a correction? Cotechino is great, but the italian tradition wants it simply boiled! This is because it's a very fat sausage, and letting it boil for over 2 hours, it stays can I explain it? Buttery and soft!! Anyway, there are lot of other recipes you can create with it, and your idea sounds tasty too!
P.S. to all the reading ones:
stay never smells but good!!

Anonymous said...

I am an italian cooker and I have never made or seen a lot of these dishes....please write american/italian cuisine more american than italian..

Anonymous said...

Co - te - ki - no.
Not "ku", not "chi"...
And that's the last word about pronounce! :)