Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cotechino 2009

Well, it's New Years, or it was just last week, so of course I had to make cotechino, the traditional Italian New Years sausage. I've made it before, and iIreally didn't change the formulation much, but i did make some changes to the process.








Cotechino 2009
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat+Fat+Skin
Pork shoulder meat
745
35
Pork belly (about 60/40 fat/lean)
745
35
Pork Skin (fatless)
625
29
Salt34
1.6
Cure #13.25
0.15
Dextrose8.5
0.4
Coriander powder
0.8
0.038
Nutmeg
0.4
0.019
Clove
0.5
0.024
Mace
0.4
0.019
Cinnamon
0.5
0.024
Cayenne
0.8
0.038
Black pepper (cracked large)
3
0.14
White pepper (ground fine)
3
0.14

As you can see the formula is nearly the same as last years. I increased the pepper and a few spices just a little, and decreased the salt. Last year I cooked the cotechino in a vacuum bag, and it was just a little salty. Since this year I would be doing the same, I decreased the salt a touch.

I read somewhere that someone recommended cutting the meat into strips when grinding instead of in chunks. This makes it easier for the grinder to "pull" the meat through the auger. It also makes for less work cutting the meat, so hey, i'll try it!

Belly and shoulder cut into strips.



Closeup of belly and meat. Why? Because everyone loves pork belly!

The meat and belly were ground through the large die on the Kitchenaid grinder, 1/4".





The skin was cleaned of fat and cut into strips as well. This year i only boiled it for about 5-8 minutes, versus the 20 last year, and it was plenty soft for the grinder.

I ground the skin alone through the small Kitchenaid die, which is 3/16".




Here you can see the skin ground through the 3/16" die, and the belly and meat through the 1/4" die.








The spice mixture.









The spice mixture was mixed with the ground meats and skin. I did this by hand as the mixture didn't it in my Kitchenaid bowl. If you do this, make sure not to overmix and cause the fat to smear. Mix it enough to be sure you have good spice distribution.
I put this mixture in the freezer to re-chill it for about 30 minutes.
I then reground the mixture through the 1/4" die.


Closeup of the reground mixture. I wanted to see if I would get a nicer texture by grinding twice, with better dispersion of the fat, less chunky, so to speak.







I ran out of casings, so instead i used plastic wrap, shaped it like a log, and wrapped it tightly. Seemed to work fine, especially because it was cooked in a vacuum bag.







Cotechino, served with lentils, New Year's Eve. Very tasty. I didn't cook it long enough though. I cooked it for 2 hours at 200 degrees, it needed at least another 1 hour to properly melt all the skin into gelatin. I think it needed more time because it was a much larger diameter than my regular cased ones.
Still, very tasty though. Flavors and salt were right on.

40 comments:

scott said...

How'd the strips work out? I mentioned that in my N'Duja post as I'd seen Chris Cosentino do it. I'm encouraged, as mine looks almost identical to yours. Nice job. They look great.

Jasonmolinari said...

Strips worked great., less work! I must have read it on your blog.

Paul said...

I am slaughtering a Tamworth hog tomorrow, and because he is such a wonderful boy, it is my intention to utilize everything except his hair.
I've cured bacon, guanciale, lardo, and have made hundreds of pounds of fresh sausage over the years but this will be my first foray into dry cured sausage.
Cotechino in casing or skin and then off to the freezer isn't a problem either (to later be cooked in cheesecloth.
99% of the meat that I eat has an extremely short chain of custody and the thought of using cures or dextrose gives me the "willies."
I mean no criticism of your technique whatsoever but hope that you might help point me toward recipes for soppressata and other dry cured sausages which do not include additives.
And help would be much appreciated...

Jasonmolinari said...

Paul, if you wish to make salamis without additives, just don't add the cure.
The safety isn't based on the chain of custody, it's based on the possibility of botulism contamination, but to each their own of course.

Paul said...

Thanks Jason,

With "wet" sausage there isn't a problem, so I never faced the decision before. What about dextrose?
I grew up in France and I teach traditional cookery, a little food history as well... your endeavors and pictures have me remembering childhood and market days!
I live in Maine and the whole basement makes for a wonderful curing environment. Pig in its own bung by Sunday...

Jasonmolinari said...

Dextrose is just a simple sugar. I'm not sure what i would substitute as the bacteria needs sugar to eat to acidify the meat paste, and i'm not sure they can break down sucrose (table sugar). I guess it might just be a slower acidification, but i don't know for sure.

Paul Drowns said...

Are you familiar with a technique of including already dried sausage in a new batch to promote acidification/fermentation?

Jasonmolinari said...

Yes, it's done with fresh, not dried, meat paste from a previous batch. It's called back slopping, and it's a terrible idea. It's a guarantee of cross contamination if one batch has a problem.

Paul Drowns said...

Even the term sounds horrid! I'm talking about something different though... can't remember where I came across the information, and can't find it now.
I think dry sausage was used in the new mix and then the fresh skin was wiped with skin from the already cured sausage to promote beneficial bloom on the new batch.
I sadly can't find it again...

Jasonmolinari said...

Oh yes, i do that. It's for the outer surface bloom though. I've written about it in previous posts. You take a piece of salami skin that has a nice bloom and put it in distilled water, and then spray your new salami with that water. It doesn't go in the mixture, it's for surface use.

Paul Drowns said...

Thanks again... distilled water and a spray bottle sounds perfect. I have 2 nice salami arriving just for that purpose.
Here we go! He'll have a cooked breakfast, we'll have a quiet moment, and then boudin noir and off to salami later in the day. I wish I had the courage to try proscuitto... perhaps next year.

Jasonmolinari said...

Sounds great. Thank him for his sacrifice!

Paul Drowns said...

We will. He is a sweet, beautiful red pig.
Thank you again... I'll keep you posted if you'd like... recipes and pics. Let me know.

Jasonmolinari said...

I'm always interested in recipes!

Paul Drowns said...

The kill and bleeding went very well. The cold was horrible!
Liver and blood go to the head of the line, so here are two recipes for Italian liver sausages...

Mazzafegati (Umbrian fresh pork liver sausage)
Makes 1 pound

These sausages are Umbrian in origin and are generally made in one of two variations, either sweet (mazzafegati dolce), or savory (mazzafegati saporito). The flavor is fantastic and these sausages deserve to be slow grilled over wood or lump charcoal.

Ingredients:

Overall
1 pound of fresh pork liver
Hog casing

For mazzafegati dolce
2 ounces of pignoli, toasted
2 ounces of unsulphured sultanas, preferably organic, plumped in vin santo or warm water and patted dry.
1/4 cup of sugar
The finely grated zest of half an orange
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For mazzafegati saporito
1/3 pound of mild salsiccia fresca, in bulk form
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

For mazzafegati dolce
Mince the pork liver as finely as possible and knead in the pignoli, sultanas, sugar, and orange zest. Season the mixture to taste and then stuff the casing, twisting the links into 5 or 6-inch lengths.

For mazzafegati saporito
Gently knead together the minced liver and salsiccia fresca and stuff the mixture into casing.

Salsiccia Fresca (Fresh Sicilian Sausage adapted from a recipe by Clifford A. Wright)
Makes 8 pounds

This is a classic Sicilian recipe for fresh sausage, the everyday counterpart to what is known in America as "Italian sausage”. In Italy, especially in the south, making homemade sausage is still a common, almost daily practice.
Pigs today in the United States are bred for leanness, making it necessary to add additional fat in order to make truly good sausage. The ratio of meat to fat should be 3-to-1 ideally, or 4-to-1 at the least, otherwise the sausage will have a dry flat taste and a crumbly disappointing texture.
It is very much worth the effort to search out pasture-raised pork. The omega fatty acids are in balance and the flavor is by far superior to corn fed animals.
 
Ingredients:
 
6 pounds of boneless pork butt, with its fat, trimmed of any connective tissue and veins and then coarsely chopped or ground. Shoulder may be substituted.
2 pounds of fresh pork fatback, rind discarded, and the fat coarsely chopped or ground.
6 tablespoons of fennel seed, cracked.
2 tablespoons of sea salt if using salted fatback, or 3 to 4 tablespoons if unsalted fatback is being used.
2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper  
1-1/2 cups of freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup of dry red wine

About 25 feet of hog casing

Method:
 
Knead together all of the ingredients in a large stainless work bowl and then refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavor to develop.
Stuff the casing, twisting the links to any desired size. Fresh sausage should be used within 2 days and frozen sausage will last for up to 6 months if a vacuum storage system is used.

Jasonmolinari said...

Thanks Paul, those recipes sound great!

lofty said...

Hi Jason,

Thanks very much for your blog. There's a lot of great information here.

Did you feel that double grinding the Cotechino dispersed the fat any better and improved the final result? Would you consider grinding using the 3/16 plate?

On another subject, and maybe I've missed this answer already, have you resolved your humidifier problem?

Thanks,

Larry

Jasonmolinari said...

Larry, thanks.
I think the double grind did disperse the fat better. Years ago i believe i did a 3/16" for the fat and the meat, and it came out too homogeneous, i didn't like it.

As for the humidifier, i bought the one Scott recommended. So far seems to be working ok.

Paul Drowns said...

A use for your cotechino, a little history, and a reason to raise pigs!


Tofeja del Canavese (Adapted from a recipe by Antonio Carluccio)
Serves 8 to 10

This rustic peasant recipe from Canavese, the northern part of Italy’s Piedmont region, is steeped in tradition and history.
The name, tofeja, refers to both the dish and the vessel in which it’s cooked, a four handled, rounded and lidded terra cotta pot specifically designed for cooking the dish.
The cotechino sausages called for in the recipe have a story as well, and date back to the siege of Mirandola by Pope Julius II in 1511.
It is impossible to stuff an entire pig in its own casing, and because of food shortages imposed by the siege, butchers had to rely on creativity in order to make sausage. In a written eyewitness account, Marco Cesare Nannini, a local physician, documents that the citizens began encasing pork in pigskin and frugally included minced pigskin in the stuffing as well.
Zampone, another culinary result of the siege, uses the same ingredients as cotechino but this time encased by either the boned foreleg or trotter of the pig.
Most modern cotechino are now made using roughly the same ingredients stuffed into large casing or bung to form 3 by 9-inch sized sausages. Sadly, most cotechino now come precooked and vacuum packed.
Ribs, ears, tails, trotters, cotechino, and cotenna, Italian for fresh pork skin, all lend an incredibly rich, porky flavor and add a wonderful gelatinous mouth feel to this Piedmontese gem.

Ingredients:

2¼ cups of dried borlotti or cranberry beans
2¼ pounds of pigs’ feet, tail, ears, spareribs, and small cotechinos
1 pound of cotenna, cut into 3 by 5-inch rectangles
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A small sprig of rosemary, picked and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, divided and finely chopped
Fresh sage leaves
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
A generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Several fresh bay leaves

Method:

Soak the borlotti in plenty of cold water overnight and then drain them.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Singe the pigs’ feet, tail, and ears if necessary to remove any hairs, and then wash them well, they should be immaculately clean.
Cut the ribs into individual pieces.
Season the pork skin with salt and pepper, mix together the rosemary and 1 clove of the chopped garlic, and then place a pinch of this mixture along with a whole sage leaf in the middle of each piece of pork skin. Roll them up tightly lengthwise and use cotton kitchen twine to tie them in places all along their length.
Put the drained borlotti in a large casserole or Dutch oven, lay the vegetables on top, and then sprinkle them with the oil, chili, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
Lay all of the meat and cotenna rolls on top of the beans and add cold water to cover.
Scatter the bay leaves and remaining chopped clove of garlic over the top, cover the casserole and cook the tofeja without touching or stirring it for 3 to 3½ hours.
Cut all of the meat into portions, use the pieces to garnish the beans, and serve immediately.

Jasonmolinari said...

That sounds super tasty. thanks!

Paul Drowns said...

would pancetta squadrata be correct Italian for fresh pork belly?

Jasonmolinari said...

Pancetta squadrata would just mean "squared off belly". For fresh, i would probably "pancetta fresca"

Russell Hews Everett said...

Hey Jason, I recently made a batch of Smoked Cotechino using the trimmings from a smoked Christmas Ham. Came out great, some weird cross of North Carolina BBQ and Italian Salami. I hung the first one for only a day or so but the other two are still hanging. This week I'll try the next one at the two week mark, and the last at once month. Thought you might be interested, so the post can be found here if you want to check it out. Keep up the good work!

Jasonmolinari said...

That's an interesting variation!

lofty said...

Hi Jason,

I just made my first batch of Cotechino using your recipe. I tried cooking one sous vide at 175F for about 10 hours. At that point, a lot of the fat had rendered out. The skin was still visible, and not exactly what I would characterize as gelatin, but it was very tender. I'm not sure exactly how it's supposed to come out though.

I think I'll try the next one at 158F for 24 or more hours and see if a bit more fat stays in the sausage.

Overall, a very enjoyable meal. Thanks for the recipe.

Larry

PS - do you prefer comments to be kept with the related post or tacked on to the newest post?

Jasonmolinari said...

Glad you enjoyed it Larry. I think comments should go with the appropriate post.

I'm not sure what temperature the skin collagen turns to gelatin, it might be higher than 175.

Let me know if you find out though!

E. Nassar said...

I followed Scott's advice as well when I made Cotechino this new year's eve and cut the meat into strips. It was easier on me and on the grinder.
I cooked the sausages sous vide at 190 for about 3.5 hours.

Nick said...

Is the recipe for the filling for zampone the same as cotechino? Got some nice trotters, want to put them to good use. I can't find any recipes for actually making zampone, just ones for cooking already-made zampone.

Jasonmolinari said...

Nick, as far as i know, yes, the filling is the same.

Paul Drowns said...

Finding a recipe for zampone is difficult. Zampone and cotechino were first made around 1510 or 1511, and it is almost entirely an industrial product today. They do share the same stuffing.
To make it properly, you need a good sized fore-trotter with the hock attached. Slit the underside of the trotter and hock, wrap it tightly in cheesecloth, and braise it for 2 to 3 hours at a very low temperature. The idea is to cook the trotter until just tender so that it can be boned. If the skin begins to turn gelatinous, remove the trotter and quickly chill it in cold water.
Reserve the stock.
Bone the trotter with a small pointed blade, pick the meat and add it to the sausage mix, and then stuff the trotter.
To cook the zampone, tightly wrap it again in cheesecloth, and braise it in the stock but this time add some aromatics (peppercorns, a blade or two of mace or a piece of nutmeg, and several cloves), a couple of carrots, a bunch of parsley, and a halved onion. Salt lightly because the braising liquid will reduce and concentrate.
Don’t toss the liquid! Strain it and use it for a good purpose...

Paul Drowns said...

Take back some of what I said... here is a link to a demonstration of boning a trotter!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zhy56najF4

Bald Italian said...

If you are interested, I could post the recipes I am familiar with. My parents are from Friuli, near Udine and I enjoy eating salame, pancetta, cottechino and whatever "fruits" a pig will yield. Saluti, Fabio

Jasonmolinari said...

Bald italian: i'm all for new recipes. You can either email them to me, and i can post them as a post, or if you like you can post them in comments..

lofty said...

Hi Jason,

I tried another Cotechino sous vide last night at 175F for 5 hours. I didn't prick the casing. There was some liquid in the casing, which I assumed was all fat. This Cotechino definitely had the unctuous mouthfeel you've described. Just awesome!

After supper, while cleaning up the cutting board where I opened the casing, all the liquid on the board had jelled. There was still plenty of gelatin left dispersed throughout the meat though.

Since I've never had a properly prepared Cotechino I can't be sure, but I suspect this was the result I was trying to attain.

Larry

Jasonmolinari said...

Larry, i've found that liquid too. It is a mixture of fat and gelatin...yum:)

Anonymous said...

Great site! I raise pigs and as they are all friends and pets hate waste. Good to see a use for skin etc. Pig liver is also good as a coarse pate, well herbed with the addition of home smoked bacon.

Jasonmolinari said...

There are also many chinese dishes that use pig liver. Rather tasty

Anonymous said...

I used to live in New Jersey where we could buy fresh cogeghini. Now I live in Florida, too far to ship fresh. So I have been looking for a recipe for making it myself. Yours looks interesting. Usually there is wine and I don't see any. Care to comment on that. Also, I am of northern italian heritage and we cook our coteghino in a kidney bean soup. Soak the beans overnight. Put beans in a pot, lay sausage on top, then put in enough water to just cover the sausage. Cook until beans are done. About halfway through, prick the sausage to let some of the fat and flavor out into the soup. At the last, salt the soup to taste. Remove the sausage. Saute some finely chopped onion in olive oil and butter till brown. Add into the soup, put the sausage back in, and bring back to simmer. That's it. You will love it.

Jasonmolinari said...

I don't put wine in mine b/c i don't usually care for wine in my sausage. Just personal preference.

your cooking method sounds great...i'll have to try it, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I used to live in Jersey and got my cotechini at Lisini Brothers in Union City. I too live in FL now. Somebody should figure out a way to get this stuff to FL. I have to wait for my brother to come down and he brings them to me frozen. I also cook them in kidney bean soup. I fix it just the way you do, with the onion disfrito at the end. I would rather eat this than a steak. How about Omaha Cotechino?