Adapted from Mario Batali Holiday Food. Sausage and lentils are a traditional New Year’s dish in Italy. The sausage rounds are thought to resemble coins and symbolize good fortune in the coming year. Cotecchino is a sausage from the Emilia-Romagna region. Batali describes it as "highly seasoned, with a lot of action, a lot of flavor, and you don’t eat a lot of it. It’s rich and heavy and unctuous. It’s a good example of Emilian cuisine, and the perfect foil for the balsamic vinegar." It is available at specialty markets and in Italian groceries.
Wine recommendation: A young Morellino di Scansano, such as Poggio Valente 1998
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 8 ounces dried lentils
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup high-quality commercial balsamic, such as Aceto Manodori
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Cotecchino sausages, about 1 pound each
Bring 6 cups water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the lentils, garlic, carrots and sage. Boil until the lentils are tender yet firm, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander over the sink and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
Prick the sausage with a pin about 30 times, every quarter-inch. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a very low boil and cover the pot. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Place the marinated lentils on a large serving platter to form a bed for the cotecchino. Remove the cotecchino from the cooking liquid and drain. Slice the cotecchino into 1/4-inch rounds and place on a platter over the lentils. Drizzle with a little extra vinegar and serve immediately.