Cotechino with Lentils | Recipe | Italian New Year's Day Traditional Meal

Happy New Year!  I am so excited that 2012 is here.  Yup.  I'm one of those people who welcomes the new year each year and all of the exciting possibilities it brings.  At the start of each new year, I am an optimist thinking, "This year will be even better than last!"  I have no doubt 2012 will be a year to remember.

An Italian tradition is to start the new year by eating cotechino and lentils.  Cotechino is a type of pork sausage made from fatback, rind and pork.  It does not have the anise seed or typical spices you'd find in Italian sausage, but has its own unique flavor I have only found in cotechino.  It is so delicious!  Being a seasonal sausage, cotechino is often only sold around the new year.

Does your family or culture have any traditional New Year's meal?

Eating cotechino and lentils is supposed to bring you luck and fortune.  I grew up eating cotechino at the start of the new year and couldn't imagine this year being any different.  I was thrilled when I discovered a local Italian specialty store carried it!  (For all you Clevelanders, check out Gust Galluci's on Euclid Ave.)

Mr. Stranded and I stuffed ourselves with cotechino and lentils (and Prosecco, too!), so I fully anticipate this year to be a great!  Hoping your 2012 bring you nothing but good things!

Cotechino with Lentils Recipe (Cotechino con Lenticchie)
Yields: 4 servings

1 2-lb cotechino sausage
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1-1/2 c dried lentils
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

1. Place cotechino in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes for pre-packaged cotechino, 2 hours for homemade cotechino.
2. While cotechino is coming to a boil, heat oil over Medium heat in a large pot.  NOTE: lentils will grow as they cook, so select a pot accordingly.  Lower heat to Medium-Low and saute onion and carrot until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and celery; stir and cook another 3 minutes.
3. Add lentils, tomato paste and bay leaf.  Stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add enough water to cover lentils by at least an inch.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Stir occasionally and add water from the cotechino, as needed, to maintain the lentils water level.
4. Drain any excess water from lentils and return to pot.  Adjust seasoning as needed.
5. Remove cotechino from water.  Using a knife with a sharp blade, remove casing and discard.  Cut cotechino into slices, about 1/4" thick.  Spoon lentils into bowls and arrange cotechino slices on top of lentils.  Serve immediately.


Miss T said... [Reply]

does it give you good luck four days after new year????
T x

Gina said... [Reply]

Happy New Years! Sounds like you and Mr. S started the year off right. I wish we had an Italian deli closer, I have to drive over an hour to get to one. My mom never made a traditional New Years meal because it's my brother's b-day so she always made his favorite. My husbands' family makes stuffed cabbage rolls for luck. I have a great feeling this will be a wonderful year full of amazing things ahead.