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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

the new year

Add zing to some Italian favorites for New Year's Eve. Zampone or cotechino with lentils is served for dinner, at midnight or on New Year's Day. The pork meat symbolizes the richness of life in the coming year, while the lentils symbolize money.

Risotto con Champagne - Risotto with Champagne
Follow the Basic Risotto Recipe - see Risotto Primer - and add one cup of really good champagne in place of one cup of water. The result will be a sparkling risotto!

Zampone or Cotechino with Lentils
A zampone is a stuffed pig's trotter, while a cotechino is a 3-inch thick, 9-inch long sausage made with the same filling. Both can be purchased partially pre-cooked in delicatessens; if you buy one, follow the directions (usually to boil it for a half hour). A cotechino will serve 6-8, and a zampone 8-10.

Preparing the Lentils

Green lentils are most often used for this dish. Use one-half a cup per person. Wash them in a colander and set them in a pot with ample water to cover and a peeled onion. If they've soaked for a bit they will take about 30-45 minutes to cook, so put them on to cook one hour before you plan to serve them; season the water with salt and pepper to taste and cook them until they have softened (don't let them overcook), drain them, place them on a platter, and keep them warm. A few minutes before you plan to serve it, drain and slice your sausage (it is good hot, and does not take well to reheating), and arrange the pieces on the bed of lentils in the platter. Serve with extra-virgin olive oil for your guests to sprinkle over their lentils.

Serves 8

We usually buy this but here is the recipe if you would like to make it.
Panforte di Siena - Sienese Fruit Cake
This is a Sienese specialty usually eaten in the winter, especially for Christmas and New Year's Eve

2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
6 oz. white flour
4 peppercorns
2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. coriander seeds
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 lb. candied melon rind wafer to line mold
1 oz. candied orange rind
4 oz. walnut kernels
2 lb. toasted almonds, shelled and skinned
8 oz. sugar
juice of 2 lemons
3 oz. honey

Mix 1 tsp. of cinnamon with 1 oz. of flour (a mixture known as polverino). Set aside. Pound the peppercorns, cloves, and coriander seeds, and mix the resulting powder with the remaining cinnamon and nutmeg (this mixture is known as droghe). Dice the candied fruit and mince the walnuts. Mix the two with the whole almonds. Sift in 5 oz. flour and the droghe and mix the whole together. Set aside. Cook the sugar with 2 Tbs. water* in an unlined copper pan until it is browned and caramelized. Knead the previously set aside mixture into the cooked sugar until you achieve a smooth mixture. Butter and dust with flour a 10" round cake mold. Cover the bottom with thin flat wafers and pour in the mixture, (it will probably be about 1" thick) and sprinkle generously with the polverino. Bake at 350 F. for 30-40 minutes. Let set and cool in its mold. Remove from mold and panforte is ready to serve. Panforte may be kept for 2-3 weeks. *: The 2 Tbs. of water may be substituted with the juice of 1/2 lemon as the acid will prevent the sugar from lumping

And for New Year's Day...
Hangover Stew
3 small red potatoes
1 small leek
1/2 onion
2 peeled tomatoes (you can use canned)
1/4 cup canned Mexican jalapeno chilies
Salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce (to taste)
3 cups water or broth

Coarsely chop the veggies and throw everything but the chilies in a pot. Bring to a simmer and add the chilies a little at a time, tasting, until you reach the desired degree of hotness - it should be hot enough to make your eyes water, but not painful. Simmer the stew until the potatoes are soft, about an hour. This will cure you, though you may have to convince a kind soul to whip it up - unless you have planned ahead.


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