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Perfect match: poached cotechino with nebbiolo

Australian Gourmet Traveller Italian recipe for poached cotechino with lentils

By Adelaide Lucas
  • Serves 4
Poached cotechino with lentils
Poached cotechino with lentils

The cotechino is one of Italy's great gifts to the meat-loving world: a sticky, succulent combination of coarse-textured porky bits and fine spices, its satisfying depth of flavour enhanced by the earthy nuttiness of the lentils and the piquant cut of the salsa verde. Full-bodied, dry red wine made from the nebbiolo grape is a marvellous accompaniment: nebbiolo is famous for its mouth-puckering tannin and ethereal, heady perfume - the tannin melts when it comes into contact with the sticky fattiness of the cotechino, and the wine's aromatics match the salsa perfectly. Originally from Piedmont in Italy's north-west, nebbiolo is also finding a comfortable home in many Australian vineyards. - Max Allen

This flavoursome Italian sausage calls for a wine with spine. Look no further than the tannin-rich, aromatic nebbiolo.


Poached cotechino
  • 1 cotechino, soaked in water overnight, then drained (see note) (about 500gm)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 gm flat pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 6 golden shallots, peeled
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 gm small green lentils (1 cup)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 125 ml nebbiolo (½ cup)
  • 125 ml chicken stock (½ cup)
  • crusty bread, To serve
Salsa verde
  • 1 slice day-old ciabatta (20gm)
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped (firmly packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, yolk only
  • 250 ml extra-virgin olive oil (1 cup)


  • 1
    Place drained cotechino in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 2½ hours, then stand in water for 15 minutes.
  • 2
    Heat olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add pancetta and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to colour. Add shallot, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden; add lentils, thyme
    and bay leaf and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add nebbiolo and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, then add 1 cup of cotechino liquid and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Season to taste, cover and keep warm.
  • 3
    For salsa verde, place bread in a bowl with vinegar, stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze vinegar from bread. Place in a food processor with parsley and garlic. Add hard-boiled egg yolk and pulse to combine, then gradually add olive oil in a thin stream until well combined. Season to taste. Makes ½ cup. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • 4
    To serve, spoon lentils onto plates, slice cotechino and arrange slices on top, and serve with salsa verde and bread to the side.


Note You will need to begin this recipe the day before. Cotechino is a large pork sausage from Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy made with pork rind, meat and spices and is available from Italian butchers and delicatessens. Soaking the cotechino removes the salt added for preservation. Drink suggestion by Max Allen