Cotechino with Polenta

Cotechino is a traditional sausage from Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve. Italians serve it with lentils (to bring rishes in thew upcoming year), potatoes or polenta. I make Cotechino once a year, by that I mean I make the sausage mixture once a year. That mixture however, produces two sausages each about 2 lbs. The blue print for Cotechino like any sausage includes pork, pork fat and a variety of spices like cloves cinnamon and mace. The key ingredient in Cotechino and what makes it a Cotechino is pork skin. A good bit of pork skin. That boiled chopped skin is very rich in collagen, that wonderful protein that melts when heated and gives good stews a lip smacking lusciousness. This means that a Cotechino sausage, sliced thick while hot has a beautiful melting texture like nothing else.

I normally cook one sausage for New Year and freeze the other one for later. This year was no difference. I made the Cotechini (for the past two year’s I’ve been adapting Jason Molinari’s recipe) and served one with lentils on December 31st. The other one I cooked it last week. This was served with polenta and a simple tomato sauce. An important factor in cooking a cotechino, is not to boil it. It should cook at about 190F for several hours in water until all the collagen is melted. What better tool to control the temperature this time around other than my immersion circulator. So, I packed the sausage in a FoodSaver bag and poached it sous vide for 3 hours at about 185F. The result was fantastic, perfect taste and texture. Cotechino should be served steaming hot, but leftover sausage once cooled and sliced thin is excellent on top of bread with a dab of mustard.


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