Cotechino is a pork sausage typical of an Italian New Year's Eve dinner. It's traditionally served right at midnight with a side of lentil soup. Italians still look for new ways to prepare cotechino; this one, in an elegant crust, is a favourite in my family.
1 (500g) precooked cotechino sausage
250g shortcrust pastry
300g frozen spinach, thawed, or 500g fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
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Cook the cotechino sausage in its pouch following the instructions on the packet. Open the pouch, drain and let it cool. Peel off the skin, making sure to not crumble the sausage and keep as a whole.
Cook the spinach in a sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of water until wilted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze off all the water wrapping the spinach in a clean cloth.
In a frying pan, saute the garlic in butter until just golden and add the spinach. Stir and cook 5-10 minutes on medium-high heath. Season with salt and pepper, take off the garlic and let cool.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Lightly dust a working surface and roll out the shortcrust pastry to a disk about 3mm thick and about 40cm in diameter. Brush the edges with beaten egg and leave them off; distribute the cooled off spinach all around the disk. If using a rectangular pastry, make small cuts along the sides (as in the picture). Distribute cooled spinach in the middle, in a narrow and long strip.
Lay the cotechino sausage on the spinach and then fold over the pastry, wrapping the meat inside. Seal the edges with the remaining egg wash and brush also the top. Lay the cotechino with the seam on the underside onto the baking tray. Make shallow diagonal cuts. If using a rectangular pastry, alternate the pastry strips as to make a braid. Brush the top with egg wash.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let slightly cool and serve. Or prepare ahead and serve at room temperature.
You can replace spinach with sauted mushrooms. Or you can replace cotechino with any other preecooked sausage.