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December 22, 2015

Winter Limited Release: Cotechino Sausage with Nutmeg and Parmigiano Reggiano

During a cold winter almost 500 years ago, the folks in Mirandola in northern Italy were running out of food. Outside the walls of their tiny town, the Pope (of all people) was waging an attack. Julius II was fighting a nasty cold in the frigid January winter to direct his forces in their attack on this little town. He wanted Mirandola out of French control and under his Papal territory. The folks inside those crumbling walls just wanted something to eat.

As our grandmothers never fail to mention, they didn't have Tupperware back then. But the Mirandolese were good at using their resources. They got the idea to use pigs' forelegs and trotters as ready-made containers. Stuffing the pigskins with richly seasoned ground pork prevented their last foodstuffs from spoiling and kept them well fed even after Pope Julius stormed through the walls and took control.

Centuries later, the region has built a reputation not for Julius' snotty winter attack but for those delicious sausages. Named for its original pigskin casing (or cotene), Cotechino is a still favorite of modern day Italians. We like serving it the way they do: tender slices of the sausage nestled in a bed of hot lentils or mashed potatoes or polenta. Many Italians eat it with lentils on New Year's Eve. It's a delicious tradition meant to bring wealth in the new year.

Since Smoking Goose Cotechino--rich with nutmeg, grated parmigiano reggiano, and black peppercorns--is stuffed in natural casings and fully cooked, it's simple to heat and serve. Rest the whole, un-cut sausage in a little water or stock. Cover with a lid and warm over medium-low heat. Pull the hot sausage from the pan, cut thick, and drizzle any juices from the cutting board over the steaming slices.

Available after Christmas: ask for Smoking Goose Cotechino at your favorite counter, and tell 'em Julius II sentcha!

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