Before the introducion of the refrigerators, fall was the moment we produced most of the pork cured meat, which was lately hanged and left to dry and mature for a few months in a colder cellar, most of the time located under the ground.
In poor italian cuisine, nothing of the pork was wasted, even the rind. It was grinded along with the fatback and some cheap meat cuts, salted, peppered, spiced and then finally enveloped in the guts and left to mature until the end of the year.
Every northern region has its own speciality, in veneto sometimes they put the tongue of the pork in the middle of the meat, or radicchio.
It was the new year’s eve dish, along with lentils and smashed potatoes. We used to pierce the gut evenlope and cook it in hot water for 4 hours, maybe switching it to another hot boiling pot after two of them. The pierces allowed most of the fat to get out of the cotechino into the water, so changing it to a new boiling pot was cleaning out most of the fat.
After four hours the rind gets sticky and most of the fat is gone leaving all the flavors inside the cotechino. It’s supposed to be eaten sliced and very hot, before the skin gets solid again. In italian we use the term ‘allappare‘, which means it makes your mouth and tongue sticky.
Now most of the cotechini out here are made with more meat and less rind, they’re precooked and requires only 20-30 minutes of cooking to get them ready. However, i know some places where you can still find the original one, and when the weather will be cold enough, we’re gonna make the traidtional northern italian new year’s eve together.
Is cotechino available in the US?