Cotechino and Lentil (Cotechino con Lenticchie) Pizza
Cotechino isn’t a traditional Italian pizza topping. This Emilian-originated sausage made with pork, lard, pork rind (the name comes from the Italian “cotica” for pork rind) and spices is usually simmered for a few hours and served with lentils on New Year’s Eve. (Eating cotechino con lenticchie is thought to be a good omen — wealth and good luck — for the year ahead). But we are talking about sausage, one of pizza’s most popular toppings, so we couldn’t stop wondering about a pizza homage to this Italian New Year’s tradition. To determine the best approach, we turned to two of our favorite Italian recipe developers, Vincenzo Viscusi and Antonio Malati, who couldn’t resist the challenge.
The toppings are simple but do require a bit of prep. After a bit of experimentation, Viscusi and Malati reinterpreted the lentils as a loose purée for a flavourful base. They opted for fior di latte for a creaminess to complement this pizza’s rich flavor. As cotechino tends to run soft after cooking it for several hours, they found that a sprinkling of tender, unblended lentils and scatterings of roasted potatoes and chopped walnuts added a nice contrasting texture. As the duo note in their video this isn’t something you’ll likely find at your local pizzeria, but it is a rich and delicious riff on the classic dish.
Notes: Cotechino is an Italian sausage that you can find fresh or pre-cooked but that may not be available at your local supermarket. We recommend Italian specialty stores or buying it in advance online. If you can’t find it, you can substitute it with your favourite sausage, finely crumbled and gently par-cooked.
This recipe makes enough dough and toppings for 6x pizzas, but you can halve quantities for a smaller serving, or reserve the dough and toppings for a later date. The toppings will keep for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
This dough only takes 5 minutes but requires 12 to 24 hours to rise. The toppings come together in a half-hour.
Makes six 12” pizzas
For the dough
1 kilogram of flour 0 or 00 (W260-300),
650 grams room temperature water
20 grams salt
3.5 grams fresh yeast
200 to 300 grams cotechino sausage
500 grams Russet potatoes
52 grams extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Flaked sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary
500 grams brown lentils
3 garlic cloves, crushed
175 ml water to loosen the lentils
500 grams fior di latte or mozzarella
100 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
Put the flour in a bowl, add the salt and give it a light stir. Crumble the yeast and mix it into the flour, then add the water.
Mix with a spoon. Once the water is absorbed, cover the dough and let it rest in the fridge for at least 15 (and up to 40) minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge and knead for 2 minutes until it feels elastic. Once smooth, cover, rest it for 1 hour at room temperature, then cover it and put it in the fridge for at least 12 (and up to 24) hours.
Six hours before you plan to make pizza, remove the dough from the fridge and portion it into 6 250g balls. Transfer to a proofing tub or individual containers, cover and let rise.
To prepare the toppings, you’ll need to simmer the cotechino, roast the potatoes, and cook the lentils. For the sausage, add the cotechino to a saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. If the cotechino is pre-cooked, simmer for 30 minutes. If fresh, poke holes in the casing and simmer according to cotechino size (1-2 hours for 200 - 400 gram sausage, 2-3 hours for 400-700 gram sausage)
Remove the sausage and (carefully so as not to burn yourself) remove the skin while still hot. Cut into ½” small cubes, then set aside. Preheat your conventional oven to 200°C. Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut into1-inch chunks. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a crack of salt and pepper, and a few rosemary sprigs. Roast for 30 minutes, or until crisp and tender.
While the potatoes cook, boil the lentils. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and 700 ml of water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer, occasionally stirring , for 20 minutes (or until tender). Drain and lightly sautée the lentils with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and crushed garlic.. After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and transfer half the lentils to a food processor or blender. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the water and blend until a smooth purée the texture of a thick cream forms (for a looser base, add 1 tablespoon of additional water at a time). Season both the purée and whole lentils with salt and pepper to taste.
Set all ingredients aside until you’re ready to make pizza but be sure they are at room temperature before baking.
Fire up your Ooni Pizza Oven. Aim for 420°C. Use the infrared thermometer to accurately check the temperature inside.
Place a dough ball on a lightly floured work surface and stretch it out from the center to the edge to form the crust. Use your fingers and knuckles to gently stretch the dough to 12 inches or your desired size. Transfer the stretched dough to a lightly dusted peel while pulling gently at the edges to stretch it out further.
Once the pizza has been stretched, spread a light, even layer of the puréed lentils on the surface of the dough out to the edge. Sprinkle up to 3 tablespoons of cooked lentils evenly over the base. Top with the cubed cotechino and fior di latte, then finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Slide the pizza off the peel and cook 1 to 2 minutes, turning the pizza every 20 seconds to ensure an even bake.
Top the cooked pizza with chopped potatoes and walnuts. Slice and serve right away.