A product from Modena, with an unmistakable taste, spicy and particular. Differently from Zampone, Cotechino di Modena is realized using natural or artificial gut, and not with the anterior paw of pigs. For this reason, it appears in a different way compared to Zampone IGP, always protected by the Regulation and typical of Modena.
History and curiosities
The story of cotechino starts in the Sixteenth century, when some farmers from Mirandola invented this product, in order to conserve for longer periods the deposits of pork’s meat during the siege of the city by Julius II.
It was the 1510 and since then this food has become famous in the national territory, accompanying especially the festivities of the end of the year, when it is consumed cooked, cut in slices, with a side dish of lentils.
Its diffusion is registered during the Eighteenth century, when Cotechino took the place of the famous “yellow sausage”, one of the most common foods in the Renaissance.
For what concerns the origin of the term, the word “cotechino” is linked to “cotica”, in other words pork rind, one of the ingredients used to produce this cold cut.
Cotechino and Zampone received both the PGI recognition (Protected Geographical Indication). In 2001 the Consorzio Zampone Modena Cotechino Modena has been created, which has twenty-two manufacturing companies.
Production and Regulation
With the expression “Cotechino Modena” we refers to a cold cut produced in the geographical area between the provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Ravenna, Rimini, Forlì, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Piacenza, Cremona, Lodi, Pavia, Milano, Varese, Como, Lecco, Bergamo, Brescia, Mantova, Verona and Rovigo.
The raw materials used to obtain the finished product are, in addition to the slim pork’s meat, obtained from the striated muscles, fat, rind, pepper and eventually salt, wine, water, aromas, spices and aromatic herbs, sugar and/or dextrose and/or fructose and/or lactose, sodium nitrite and/or potassium at a maximum of 140 ppm, ascorbic acid and its sodic salt, monosodium glutamate.
The mixture is put inside natural or artificial guts. This is the characteristic that leads to distinguish Cotechino from Zampone di Modena, which is made using the anterior leg of pigs to contain the mix of meat and spices. In this way, it obtains a typical shape that justifies the origin of its name.
The productive process of Cotechino Modena includes meat grinding, after a thermic treatment. The packaging must respect precise indications included in the Regulation, which consents the use of hermetic boxes, adequate to tolerate the thermic treatment. This occurs usually in an autoclave, at a temperature of 115°C.
The product is put in the commerce with the Protected Geographical Indication designation “Cotechino Modena”, easily readable, with indelible ink, on the surface of the package and followed by the term “Protected Geographical Indication” or the mark “P.G.I.”.
Taste and characteristics
Cotechino di Modena is a cold cut with a typical spicy taste. It can be eaten after cooking and it can be found in the commerce fresh or precooked. The slices are compact and with an uniform granularity, characterized by a pinkish color, almost red, not necessary uniform.
For what concerns the chemical-physical profile of dough, it has an amount of 17% in proteins and a ratio of fat and proteins 1.9, while the ratio of water and proteins is 2.70. Cotechino can be found fresh or cooked. In the first case, it has been dried in the heater before being put in the commerce. In the second case, instead, Cotechino has been precooked in water and then packaged in hermetic containers or cartons.
Cotechino belongs to the culinary tradition of Modena, but we can find it in the tables of the entire nation, especially during Christmas, when it is served with legumes, in particular lentils. It is served often also with beans, spinaches, potatoes or polenta.
It combines perfectly with a red sparkling wine, as Lambrusco DOC. This wine valorizes the most bodied tastes, as those of pork’s meat, cold cut or lamb. Even Sangiovese di Romagna DOC is absolutely suggested for this kind of products. Sangiovese, in fact, is a red wine produced in the countryside in Emilia-Romagna, perfect to accompany second dishes with meat or cheeses.
Recently, Consorzio Zampone Modena Cotechino Modena published a recipe book during a national gastronomical contest, in order to valorize these excellent products. Cous Cous, Cotechino tartare with shrimps, polenta with Cotechino ragout and honey fungus, Zampone di Modena with Savoy cabbage, pine nuts and raisin are just some of these original recipes which conjugate tradition and innovation.