I made this a few years ago, I bought Cotechino from an Italian deli in far north Queensland (having no idea how to cook it) and I asked my husbands Nonno how to cook it, and he showed me how to make the stock, which he recommended goes especially well for a base for a minestrone soup.
Oh, how right he was.
So what is Cotechino?
It is a large fresh sausage made from pork fatback, and pork rind. Cotechino dates back to around 1511 to Gavello, where, whilst besieged the people had to find a way to preserve meat and use the less tender cuts.
This is it defrosting in its packaging…
This is what is looks like cut open after simmering for 2 hours – this breaks down in the soup, so don’t freak out.
It breaks down to an almost a bacony-pork-mince which blends into the soup. The flavour of the stock is the best I have ever tasted, I plan to create some more recipes using this stock.
You can make this in a slow cooker, or a thermie, to even a big pot on the stove. All you need to do is place the Cotechino in icy cold water in your pot/ slow cooker/ thermomix, then let the water in the heat up, let it simmer for 2 hours or so. Make sure the water JUST covers the Cotechino when you cook it. Once cooked, I then take it out, peel the skin off and slice it down the middle to get a hurry on with all that bacon goodness into the stock.
My husband loves soup. He pretends he doesn’t as he think’s its not terribly manly, but when he had this he just about licked the bowl clean, its a GREAT way to get those veggies into your kids and partner and it freezes well (leave out the pasta though, just add it in with some stock when you heat on the stove).
If you don’t have Cotechino, use bacon. I would say at least half a kilo.
Veggies, I’m not going to to say what veggies to buy – because the italian way is to just use what is in season (and generally what was grown in the back garden) but this is what I used –
2 large diced zucchinis
1 diced red capsicum
2 brown onions (already diced browned in some good olive oil, very important to brown the onion beforehand)
3 sticks of celery diced
1 & 1/2 cups of mushrooms
The sauce –
Into the stock add, 1 large 370g jar of passata (of you don’t make your own, I highly recommend the Leggos brand – it’s a little bit more expensive but definetly the best for this dish)
2 tins of 400g crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of garlic
3 tablespoons of dried italian herbs
1 teaspoon of salt (just remember this makes enough for about 8-10 meals)
1 teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of roughly chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup of pasta (try to use pasta shells, risoni… small pasta)
Add your passata, tinned tomatoes, veggies, tomato paste, garlic, sugar, red wine, salt, pepper, worchestershire and herbs.
Cook for as many hours as you desire. For me, I slow cook for about 4-6 hours. Just be careful to not cook the veggies so much that they become mushy. If the cotechino doesn’t break down enough, take it out and slice it up and put back in the soup.
Add your pasta into the dish 30 minutes before serving.
I serve with fresh sour dough or crunchy olive bread.