We began our New Year’s celebration early, and cooked up a luscious Cotechino sausage to serve with a potful of nutty lentils, and a side of winter-sweetened braised carrots. Many thanks to Rook, the talented butcher at Maine Meat, for his house made version of this Italian specialty. As with many foods traditional to New Year’s, this simple dish symbolizes prosperity and good fortune — wishing you all a Happy New Year’s, we’re feeling lucky already.
New Year’s Cotechino Sausage with Lentils
2 cotechino sausages, about 1 pound each
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 rib celery, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 pound lentils, rinsed
Salt and pepper
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Minced parsley, for garnish
– Place the two sausages in a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover the sausages. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Poach the sausages until they are heated through (around 160°F internal temperature), about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When done, turn off heat.
– Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and 5 to 6 cups of the cotechino poaching liquid. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add a little more liquid to the lentils as they cook, if necessary. Season to taste with good olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
– Remove the cotechino from the liquid, peel off the casing, and slice thickly. Serve over a platter of lentils, garnished with parsley and last drizzle of good olive oil.
Adapted from “Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita”.
Local ingredients: Cotechino sausage from Maine Meat; onion from Black Kettle Farm; carrot, cutting celery, garlic and parsley from the garden.