Friday, December 17, 2010

Cotechino 2010

It's that time of year again, when cotechino makes its yearly appearance, in preparation for the New Years feast! I've explained the story of cotechino a couple of times before, both in 2008 and 2009. This year I was fortunate enough to have some concia, or spice mixture, from a fellow Italian in San Francisco. He gets it from his uncle in Italy, and he kindly sent me a pack to try. Sorry, i don't know what's in it, but i think it's the usual spice suspects which you can see on previous years posts.

There was one major change this year. I just recently got a standalone grinder. It a nice #12 electric model. I had had enough of the Kitchenaid not being able to deal with the smallest amount of sinew in the meat. It was taking me hours of trimming. With this grinder I just cut the shoulder into strips and fed it right through. Ground right through it, no problems... nice!

The other reason I wanted a standalone grinder was to be able to grind the cotechino skin without precooking it first, like I've done every other time. I think I've been losing some collagen and unctuousness by precooking the skin before grinding it.

This can be made with a kitchenaid grinder, no real problems, but follow the directions from previous years about pre-cooking the skin.

This year's stack of pig skin. I removed most of the fat attached to it, but wasn't 100% perfect. I figured a little extra fat can't hurt.

I followed by Italian friend's suggestion and cut the skin into strips and froze them almost solid.

I ground the skin through a 3/4" plate first to get it started.
I will say, even with a dedicated grinder (home, not commercial) it was TOUGH getting through the raw skin. The grinder jammed repeatedly and had to be reversed and restarted.

Meat (shoulder) and back fat were cut into strips and put in the freezer until partially frozen.

Here are the fat and meat ground through an 8mm plate.

The skin was then refrozen and reground through a 5mm plate, and added to the meat and fat.

The salt and spice mix.

Thanks again Alberto!

Everything was really well mixed until there was a good bind of the paste. Notice the white film on the sides of the bowl. That's the sticky protein that's pulled out of the meat by the salt, and helps in the binding of the sausage paste.

Not too concerned about smearing the fat, but I tried to be somewhat delicate.

The meat paste was cased in beef middles, as well as a double sides snout.

The sausages were put, uncovered, in the fridge for 48 hours to dry out the excess moisture on the surface. They were then vac. packed and frozen, ready to be cooked in a few weeks.

Come time for cooking they'll be tightly wrapped in foil like giant candies and simmered gently for a couple of hours.
Should be great.


Michael said...

Hello Jason
What is the purpose of Vac Packing and freezing for the few weeks?


Jasonmolinari said...

Hey michael, no real purpose other than storage:)

Russell Hews Everett said...

Lookin' good! This year's Xmas ham is curing away and I was thinking along the Cotechino line as well. Last year I left the skin on during the smoking and it made for very odd, but good, BBQ Cotechino. This year I'm thinking of trying it out as a Pork Pie filling instead of casing it.

Jasonmolinari said...

hrmmm pork pie....yummy.

E. Nassar said...

Looking forward to the final verdict on this one Jason. This year I have a lot of wild Texas boar in my freezer and if I have the time I might do a cotechino using that (and regular pig skin of course). I really like your recipe and have been using it for the last couple of years, the one with precooked skin. I still have a large cotechino from last year in my freezer though, so I am not sure I'll make another batch...decisions...decisions..

Jasonmolinari said...

E, sounds like you just need to invite more people over and made both...and do a head to head. Wild boar vs. regular pork. Sounds awesome!

dan said...

Hi Jason,
Those look great! One question, as I'm kind of new to sausage making and curing. I thought you only used curing salt (nitrate & nitrite)for meats that were going to be smoked or dry-cured-- not fresh sausages like this one. Am I missing something?


Jasonmolinari said...

Dan, cure #1 is used in fresh and smoked sausages to "set" the color of the meat and to give it that cured sausage flavor. It contains no nitrAte, only nitrItes.
For quickly cooked products, cure #1 is not strictly necessary, and the product will be perfectly safe and delicious without it.

Take a look at my prior post on cure #1 and #2:

Unknown said...

I look forward to eating my share

matt said...

I am wondering how hard it would be to chop the pig skin by hand - if it was frozen, rather than put it through the grinder. I know the skin is really tough however.

scott said...

What kind of grinder you using, Matt?

Makin' Sausage said...

I recently made cotechino myself with pleasing results. I did not wrap in foil before poaching and wondered if you noticed a difference or new why one would do that. Love your blog, keep it up!

Jasonmolinari said...

I've been told to wrap it to avoid it exploding while cooking. That didn't happen this year maybe bc I heated it slowly to a gentle simmer. I wont be wrapping any more.

Anonymous said...


what kind of grinder did you get? are you happy with it?


Jasonmolinari said...

BC- it's a "generic" #12 grinder from Northern Tool. It's noisy, but i'm happy with it for what i do.