The origins of the cotechino are vague, but we could consider it the ancestor of all deli meats, it was solely prepared by the "lardaroli" and the "salsicciari" (sausage makers) in ancient times. The first mention regarding cotechino is made in a ceiling price only in 1745, and the first recipe appears the following year. This deli meat is enhanced and ennobled thanks to the great father of Italian cuisine Pellegrino Artusi who, in his immense work, "Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well", speaks with great joy of the famous "cotechino fasciato" (“swathed cotechino”). In Mantua on August 15th, for the feast of the Madonna delle Grazie, after the pilgrimage, it is customary to eat the sandwich with the cotechino.
Cotechino is steamed. It shows a pink red color, a coarse and very fragrant "collagenous" paste. It is consumed hot, and is characterised by the texture of soft and sticky meat and by the perfect balance of spiciness.
Heat it in a bain-marie in its aluminium case, open the bag and cut it into thick slices to arrange the serving dish.
Pairing and Wines
Cotechino is served in its classic form with the puree and stewed lentils and - like Zampone - is a typical dish of the first day of the year. Some famous chefs serve it with a non-sweet eggnog, whipping the egg yolks with cognac. According to the tradition of Mantua and Cremona it is served with spicy fruit compotes. An alternative proposal is to prepare it in a crust of bread wrapped in cabbage leaves previously blanched and baked. It is also tasty in the grilled version where the characteristic flavour of the coals is added.
The sharp, slightly piquant flavour requires a wine with good acidity, sharp, a bit rough, austere, gruff, full-bodied, for this reason Refosco and Nebbiolo are both perfect. The softness, the sumptuousness and the good flavour of the cotechino will be perfectly balanced by the character of these two wonderful wines.