Lentils & Cotechino
1-Cooked Cotechino from Modena, preferably PGI* 17.5oz
1-cup Lentils**, dry, rinsed and drained
2- ribs Celery, small dice
3- large Carrots, small dice
½- Sweet Onion, small dice
¼ cup- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-sprig fresh Thyme, plus more for garnish
½ cup- White Wine (Optional)
1- can peeled tomatoes (400 grams)
32oz- Chicken Broth
½- teaspoon kosher salt
First, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Keep cotechino in its aluminum sachet without piercing or opening it and submerge in boiling water for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, in another medium pot over medium-low heat saute the celery, carrots, onions and spring of fresh thyme, stirring gently with wooden spoon. Cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in kosher salt to taste. Stir the rinsed lentils into the sauteed veggies, keep stirring. If you are using the wine, add it now and allow the alcohol to burn off. Then add the can of tomatoes. Fill the empty can with a bit of water and swirl around so you get any remaining tomato out. Break up the tomatoes as you stir and add chicken broth.
Cut open the bag of cotechino at the top, being careful of the hot steam, dump the entire contents, including liquid into lentils. Cover with lid, turn down heat to low and cook until lentils are soft, about 30-40 minutes. Using kitchen shears, cut the cotechino into big slices right in the pot. Be sure to remove the twine from the ends of the cotechino.
Ladle into bowl, top with grated cheese and fresh thyme.
* Cotechino is a cooked pork sausage made from a mix of top quality pork, lean and fatty cuts, and pigskin from pigs bred in Italy. It’s seasoned with natural flavourings and spices, filled in casings and tied by hand at both ends. It’s very rich and filling, you don’t need much but it adds a ton of flavor. I used Levoni brand Cotechino from Modena, it’s got the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) meaning the pork can only come from a specific region in Modena and is a hallmark of quality. It’s usually sold in a box, inside the sausage is sealed in an aluminum sachet. Imported from Italy.
**I used Beluga lentils here, but you can use any dry lentils you like. Red Chief have a beautiful orange color, just know that after they are cooked they all kind of look the same, like a grey color. You always want to rinse lentils really well before using, the way there are grown, I find pebbles just about every time.