It is made from pork, fatback, and pork rind. The fatback — fat from under the pig skin — gives the sausage a gluey texture and stickiness.
Most exact recipes are held secret by various makers, though some makers put some sodium nitrate in to keep the meat pink.
The sausage has a mild flavour, and needs cooking.
The sausages can be cooked by slow simmering for around three hours, or slices of them can be grilled. When cooking whole, you will want to pierce the sausages to let some of the fat drain out. This is normally verboten with sausages, of course, but these are relatively fatty sausages.
The sausage has PGI status.
It is traditional to serve Cotechino on New Year’s Day in the Modena area, with polenta, a sauce such as pearà, and either lentils (Cotechino con Lenticchie) or cannellini beans.
Cotechino is often used as an ingredient in bollito misto.
Cotechino di San Leo
This spicier version of Cotechino is made in the “Le Marche” region of Italy.
It is made from pork rind, cheek and shoulder, along with pancetta. The meat is minced, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and salt.
It is sold cooked but still needs some further cooking. It can be eaten right away, but also benefits from some aging.
It is simmered and cut into slices for serving.
Literature & Lore
The village of San Pietro, 15 km outside of Verona, has a Festa del Cotechino each year. It started in 1988. The number of contestants is limited to ten.
Cotica is pork rind, cotiche is plural.
Pozzi, Tim. The gentleman of Verona and his incredible sausage. London: The Times. 21 January 2010.