River Cottage chefs Gill and Tim cook up an Italian wild boar sausage to serve with lentils and mustard pears on River Cottage Christmas
Makes 3-4 sausages
For the lentils
Before you get to work on your cotechino mix, put the casings to soak in a large bowl of fresh water. Slosh them about to rinse off the salt, then run the tap through the inside of them to flush them clean. When they are slippery, flexible and thoroughly rinsed of salt, they are ready to use.
Coarsely mince the wild boar. Ideally the back fat should be finely diced into ‘petit pois’ sized cubes by hand but you can get away with pulsing it in a food processor or coarsely mincing it. If you’re using belly just mince it. The pork rind must be finely chopped, by hand or in a food processor, not minced. Now combine all the ingredients in a large basin, mixing thoroughly with your hands.
Fill the sausage casings following the instructions with your sausage machine, or by hand using a plastic funnel, until you have sausages about 25cm long, tightly packed and double knotted with butchers string at both ends.
Hang the cotechino in a dry, airy place, such as a draughty outbuilding or covered porch – they shouldn’t touch each other. They are good for boiling any time after about 5 days but perhaps at their best at around 15-20 days. By about 40 days they will be pretty dry and hard. If you want to keep them any longer they should be vac-packed or cling filmed and refrigerated, when they will keep for another month or so. Or freeze them to keep indefinitely.
For the braised lentils, put the lentils in a saucepan and add plenty of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute only, then drain. Return the lentils to the pan and pour on just enough stock or water to cover them. Add the bay leaf, garlic and parsley stalks, if using. Bring back to a very gentle simmer, and cook slowly for about 30 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
Drain the lentils and discard the herbs and garlic. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To cook a cotechino, completely immerse the sausage in a pan of fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 1½ hours for thin ones (i.e. stuffed middles) or 2½ hours for fat ones (i.e. stuffed bung). Cut into thick slices and serve on a bed of warm lentils with salsa verde and some mustard pears.
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