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Cotechino W/Lentils and Broccoli Rabe

3 stalks celery -- halved crosswise
1 large carrot -- halved crosswise
1 large leek -- halved lenthwise
-- and crosswise
-- well rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
6 cups water
3 cups dried lentils -- rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds cotechino -- or other garlic
-- sausage
1 tablespoon fresh parsley -- chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bunches broccoli rabe -- woody stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic -- finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Prepare bouquet garni: place celery, carrot, leek, bay leaf, and thyme in center of a piece of cheesecloth and tie together tightly to create a bag. In 5-quart saucepot, heat water, lentils and bouquet garni to boiling over high heat. Skim off any foam that comes to surface. Reduce heat to low and simmer lentils until tender - about 35 minutes. Add salt to lentils halfway through cooking time. Drain lentils in strainer, discarding bouquet garni; set lentils aside. Meanwhile in 4-quart saucepan, heat chicken broth to boiling over high heat. With fork, pierce sausage all over. Place sausage in boiling broth. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook sausage until cooked through - about 40 minutes. Remove sausage from broth to cutting board; cool until easy to handle.

Remove casing and slice sausage crosswise into 1/4" slices. Keep warm. Strain 1/2 cup broth into measuring; freeze leftover broth for another use. In same saucepan combine lentils and 1/2 cup broth. Stir in parsley and ground pepper. Keep warm. In large skillet heat 1 inch water to boiling. Add broccoli rabe and blanch 1 minute. Drain and set aside. Heat same skillet over medium heat until hot. Add oil and garlic and cook1 minute. Add blanched broccoli rabe and red pepper; sauté‚3-5 minutes or until broccoli is tender-crisp. To serve line edge of large serving platter with broccoli rabe mixture and spooon lentils into center.

Place sausage over lentils and serve.

Country Living January 1998, page 105. Alan Tardi and Karen Bussen, Follonico, NYC.

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