Ladles at the ready, the snow has arrived which calls for rich and slippery pasta soupy dressings like Pasta, Fagioli e Cotiche so beloved in Colledimezzo (CH). This stunning town overlooks Lago Bomba and its community always serves this dish at their San Antonio Abate festivals. When it snows in Abruzzo you need hearty dishes that make you feel warm from top to toe and the traditional way is beans cooked with pork rind. If you live anywhere in the foothills and mountains you won’t just be tackling shovelling snow, but brushing olive trees so the weight of snow doesn’t crush their century-old branches.
Cotiche, pork rind is one of the many ingredients that is still eaten traditionally in Abruzzo at this time of year. Abroad, it’s readily embraced in its fancier puffed-up roasted incarnation, pork crackling, pork scratchings even as a snack! Visit a porchetta van and you will be asked if you would like cicciolo alongside your slices of meat. Many people will grimace at the thought of boiled rind, however, if you have eaten the big fat Italian sausage Cotechino that is eaten with lentils traditionally on New Year’s Eve you have eaten boiled pork rind. Its name mirrors its ingredients and there is a fair amount of rind in this boiled sausage! Beyond adding a deep feel-good flavour, pork rind adds protein and selenium that works on cell renewal at times of infection.
In Abruzzo’s agricultural year, January was the month that pigs were butchered, and sausages are still made and hung to dry in front of the fire today. Historically there wasn’t a term for nose-to-tail eating, it was just the way of eating to ensure that nothing went to waste for subsistence farming families that didn’t have luxuries.
If you are going to give this winter dish a whirl and are on the hunt for cotiche, your best bet is to talk to a good, local butcher, what the pig has feasted on over the year and its mobility does has a big impact on the flavour of the cotiche like any meat, and although I have seen it in my local supermarket, it’s not somewhere I would personally buy it from.
Alessia from Colle Ospitale who work on organising the feasts for the festivals in town, sent in this recipe for everyone to try. To try the vegan version that they also serve, simply remove the cotiche! During the snow, life needs to be easy, with things to hand at home. The pasta, the sagne can be made by hand and simply rolled out with a rolling pin to form a sheet and cut into sagnettes (little diamond shapes|) or just strips. Their rough texture is perfect for cradling this full-bodied sauce. A simple tomato sauce is added to the lightly sauteed celery and onion and the pre-cooked pork rinds at the end. The dish is then left to absorb all those flavours before a gentle reheat. If you have some frozen basil or some fresh in a pot add a couple of leaves and add to this full-bodied sauce, and of course, don’t forget to snip a little peperoncino on top!
Colledimezzo Pasta, Fagioli e Cotiche
- 400 g Cooked Beans, Borlotti beans are ideal!
- 300 g Passata
- 200 g Pork Rind
- Finely chopped onion and celery for the soffritto
- 1 glug Olive Oil
- 200 g Semolina Flour
- 100 g Water
- 2 pinches Finely-ground Salt
- Boil the pork rind, first for 20 minutes, drain and add fresh water and cook for 1 more hour, drain and slice into matchsticks
- Make the dough for your pasta, add water to the flour and salt mix slowly in the water till it forms a dough, knead till smooth and leave to one side in the fridge to rest
- Finely chop your onion and celery and saute when soft add your passata and simmer for 20 minutes, when ready add your pork rind matchsticks and leave to infuse.
- Cut your dough into quarters roll out each till 1 mm in thickness and then either cut into diamonds or strips or 0.5 cm wide by 3 cm length
- Boil your sagnette for 3 minutes, making sure you have added double the amount of salt than your usual pinch, drain and add to your pasta sauce. Lightly mix and serve.
Visit Colledimezzo’s San Antonio Abate Festa, Click Here to Read More