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Pig Skin Rollups - Cotechinata

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People don't often eat pork skins any more, but back in the days when famine was always lurking nothing was allowed to go to waste. And as is often the case with so-called lesser meats, the ingenuity people used in preparing them led to very tasty dishes. Cotechinata are pigskin rollups, a specialty from Basilicata: true peasant food of a sort that one doesn't encounter often nowadays. To serve 6 you'll need:

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 k) fresh pork skins
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 2 fresh hot red peppers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lard or olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Toothpicks

Preparation:

Blanch the skins, scrape off any bristles you see, and cut them into squares between 4 and 6 inches (10-15 cm) per side. Combine the garlic, parsley, and peppers, and mix well. Spread the mixture over the squares of pork skin and roll them up to make involtini, securing them with toothpicks.

Heat the oil or lard in a skillet large enough for the involtini to lie in a single layer. Brown them, turning them to color all sides, add the tomato sauce, and simmer them covered until the skins are quite soft, at least an hour and more likely two, adding water if need be to keep the pot from drying out. Serve hot with a zesty green, for example broccoli raab, and a bright red wine, for example an Aglianico.

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