Every new year’s eve, my family eats the same dinner. Whether you’re superstitious or not, the promise of having a wealthier new year by just eating as many lentils as possible is just too good to pass up! In fact, everyone is encouraged to eat as many lentils as possible because they are like coins and the more you eat on New Year’s eve, the more will come to you in the new year.
Italians cook a special pork sausage called Cotechino or Zampone (where the sausage is stuffed in the skin of the foot and toes of a pig, instead of the sausage casing). Towers of boxes containing these sausages start appear in local Italian markets in December. Outside of Italy, these special sausages can be found at a well-stocked Italian deli or online. These semi-cured, usually pre-cooked, sausages are stuffed with premium pork and a special mix of spices, that include black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon – the spices can vary depending on the Italian region where they’re made.
Americans can substitute Cotechino with a fresh all-natural breakfast, or country, sausage – this is an extra-thick sausage in similar dimensions to Cotechino that is usually sliced and then cooked as opposed to being cooked whole and then sliced as we do in Italy. You’ll either want to get a country sausage in an edible casing to use for this recipe or (if it’s just the pulp in the plastic packaging) slice cook conventionally to then add to this dish before serving. Another alternative is to use fresh pork sausage – the highest- quality and thickest ones you can find. Brown these in the base of the pressure cooker with the oil and butter before getting started and then follow the rest of recipe as described.
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|3 L or larger||steamer basket||10 min.||High(2)||Natural|
- 1, 500g Cotechino, or 1 lb fresh country pork sausage in casing
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1½ cups dry lentils, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- Rinse and clean the pork sausage, then poke holes all around the casing with a fork and place in the steamer basket.
- In the pre-heated pressure cooker on medium heat add the olive oil, butter onion and saute' until the onion begins to soften (about 5 minutes). Then add the celery and saute for a minute more.
- Mix-in the lentils, vegetable stock and bay leaf.
- Lower the steamer basket with the sausage into the pressure cooker, over the lentils.
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker reaches pressure, lower to the heat to the minimum required by the cooker to maintain pressure. Cook for 10-12 minutes at high pressure.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, when cooking time is up count 10 minutes of natural open time. Then, release the rest of the pressure slowly using the valve.
- Mix-in about a teaspoon of salt if you used un-salted veggie stock and discard the bay leaf.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop the lentils onto a serving platter. Slice the sausage and arrange over lentils.
- Serve with mashed potatoes.
Happy New Year!
What a clever technique! Saves a lot of time and cleaning up an extra pot, too. I’m going to try this come New Year’s Eve.
Buon Capo d’Anno Franco!
This looks terrific! We are fortunate to have several artisanal sausage makers locally; cotechino (of US manufacture) is widely available. What a treat! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!
If they have a website, or there is some way to find US-made cotechino, please post links so other readers can find & cook them, too!
Happy New Year!
I use a slightly different recipe adding just 1 teaspoon of tomato paste and 2 garlic cloves.
I never steamed cotechino.
I’ll make it this way on New Year’s Eve .
I learn so much from you ! Thank you !
Buon Anno Laura!
Elvira… I’ll do anything to wash fewer dishes!!! ; )
Happy New Year!
I made a variation based on this recipe tonight. It was the first time I have ever used a pressure cooker and it was super easy and oh so good.
My variation used fresh basil chicken sausage. The lentils I seasoned with a bay leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and minced garlic.
Thanks for sharing your variation – sounds great!
Buon pomeriggio, Laura:
Cotechino has also been a New Years tradition with my family. However, we always served it with kale, not lentils. My mother’s family is Southern, so in the American South, collard greens and black eyed peas served with some sort of pork rules the day. I think I’ll give this a go this New Year’s if I can find a source for the sausage. We used to order it from Manganaro’s in New York, but they closed a couple of years ago. I’ll check your links for a good source. Meanwhile, see if you can come up with a way for me to cook the Cotechino with kale in one pot. And by the way, closer inspection of my PC shows it is 6 qt not 10 qt. I just was thinking it was the largest one they make.
Well, they don’t sell Kale in Italy so I can’t test it myself but I bet that you could wrap the cotechino in kale and steam it!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Laura and fans of Hip Pressure Cooking.
Laura, what Brand of pressure cooker are you using? Noticed the steamer is dual purpose as a grater as well.
Love the idea of lentils for good luck at New Year’s. Since we use lentils regularly, I’m hoping to get rich soon!
Ciao Jonilyn, Happy New Year to you, too! This is the Fagor Futuro pressure cooker – I just got the Chef and it has the same steamer basket. It’ll work in a cinch – and I’ve used it to grate lemon zest at a demo – but it’s a bit uncomfortable to be your primary grater. ; )
This brings back memories. I used to get cotechino from a place in New Jersey, just over from NYC (my ex’s family lived there). I would cook it the way his Mom did – by boiling for a fairly long time. Instead of the lentil accompaniment, we would saute garlic in olive oil, cut savoy cabbage into 1″ thick ribbons, and add to the pan, and then add some of the “boiling water” to the pan, and let the cabbage cook.
That was delicious, and now I have to find some cotechino and make again. Wonderful family – they came from Torino, so I am not sure if that is how they make it there.
Using cabbage makes absolute sense, it’s a very frequently used vegetable in the Northern Italian regions – and Torino is really up there!
Thanks for sharing your memory. It sounds like a great variation for those who aren’t big fans of lentils
Your recipe received a shout-out from Memorie Di Angelina in today’s recipe newsletter!
I knew about the lentils/coins, but didn’t know there was a recipe and a recommended sausage. Thanks for the substitution suggestions, Laura!
— Madeline, in New York City
Thanks for letting me know- I’m a big fan for Frank and his nonna’s cooking! He takes the Italian classics and keeps them that way. There’s a reason why they’re CLASSICS!!!
L ; )
My dad always used smoked ham hocks as the meat.. I’m going to try it your way.
Hi Laura: I made your recipe of lentils and sausages today and I must say what a great combination. Everything was cooked just right. My husband couldn’t stop complimenting me but I had to give the credit where credit was due and that is to you.
Thank you so much again for sharing all of your recipes with us and making the instructions so easy to follow. (I am hoping to find cotechino next time I make this dish).
Thanks again, take care.
This is a FIVE star.
Mil, thanks for keeping us up to date on your delicious creations! I’ll add the rating for you – can’t figure out what’s going on (sorry).