Northern Italians traditionally eat this garlicky sausage with lentils at the New Year to bring prosperity and luck. It is particularly good if you can get uncooked cotechino from an Italian salumeria, though cooked cotechino can be used.
In a large bowl, soak the cotechino in water to cover for 1 to 2 hours.
Place the lentils in a soaked 3-quart clay pot. Stir in the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Add the broth and 1 cup of water. Cover the pot and place it in a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and cook for 1 hour, until the lentils are soft but not mushy. (Check the lentils after 30 minutes, adding an additional cup of water it the liquid has dropped below the surface of the lentils.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, with a fork, pierce the cotechino in 8 to 10 places. Place the cotechino in a deep skillet and add enough water to cover. Cover the pan, bring the water to a simmer, and cook the sausage gently for 20 minutes if using cooked cotechino, 50 minutes if using uncooked.
Spoon the lentils onto a serving platter. Cut the sausage into 3/4-inch slices and arrange over the lentils.
The Best of Clay Pot Cooking
by Dana Jacobi
Photographs by Elizabeth Watt
September 28, 1995
Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
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