The Cotechino is universally recognized as the father of the Zampone or pig’s trotter stuffed with chopped, seasoned meat. Its name derives from “cotica” which means the pig’s rind. The idea of stuffing the meat of the pig in a small casing made from the pig’s intestines was a very antique and effective method for preservation. More recently a natural pork casing is used.

History of Cotechino

The Cotechino uses a natural pork casing while the pig’s foreleg is used for the Zampone. As previously mentioned, Cotechino came many years before the Zampone, originally being sausage for poor people. It was usually eaten with stew or vegetable soup. It was handmade by “salsicciari Modenese” Modena’s sausage makers.
Cotechino, and similarly Zampone originated in Mirandola in 1511 during the Siege of Pope Julius II.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the last century when the Cotechino reached its culinary fame. In 1910, Pellegrino Artusi titled recipe number 322, “Wrapped Cotechino” in his famous cookbook La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene (The science of cooking and the art of eating well).

How to Eat Cotechino

Cotechino has an elongated shape and is normally placed in warm water to soften its casing. It is cooked in boiling, unsalted water and wrapped in a cloth to prevent it from splitting.

Like the Zampone, a commercialized, precooked version of the Cortechino is available in a vacuumed packed bag, suitable for placing in boiled water for reheating. Cotechino is also a typical dish during the Christmas holiday and New Year’s Eve in Italy, with a side dish of lentils or kidney bean stew, in addition to mashed potatoes or spinach mixed with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. Lots of crusty bread is also a great addition for soaking up the juices. Cotechino symbolizes wealth and good fortune for the coming year. Although it’s so delicious that the recipe is made year-round. 

Holiday Recipe

Cotechino con Lenticchie (Cotechino Sausage with Lentils)

Recipe courtesy of Eataly
Yields: 6 servings