Rolled pork skin is a tasty piatto unico, one course meal, usually prepared on Sundays.
The cotenne are stuffed with breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, pinoli, parsley, cheese and olive oil and cooked in tomato sauce.
The tomato sauce, infused with the savor and smell of the skins and its multi-flavored filling is a perfect companion to a pasta dish and the rolled pork is a satisfying second course for all tastes.
My mother added to this Sunday sauce sausages, meatballs and a few chunks of beef making this modest meal into a festive event.
A more elaborate version, called Braciolone di Cotenna, is stuffed with a mixture of chopped pork, beef, eggs, cheese, pinoli, herbs and spices: it is cooked for a few hours in a tomato sauce made with tomato paste and it is sliced and served as a second course.
- 4 pork skins
- 1 ½ cups lightly toasted breadcrumbs
- ½ cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ½ minced small onion
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon of pinoli
- 2 tablespoons of minced parsley
- ½ cup of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil to drizzle
- cooking twine
- 3 tablespoons of oil and 2 cloves of garlic to sauté the rolled skins
Ingredients for the Sauce
- 2 medium onions chopped finely
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 can 28 oz. peeled tomatoes
- 1 can 12 oz. tomato paste. Diluted in 1 cup of water
- 5 leaves basil
- A pinch of oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Also 1lb. of your preferred pasta and some grated cheese.
THE PORK SKINS
The pork skins can be found in pork stores, in Mexican meat markets or in some supermarkets.
Usually they come in strips about 8 inches wide; cut the skins into rectangular shape about 4 by 8 inches, which is the ideal size to make the Cotenne con il Sugo.
Usually the pig skins are sold packaged and ready for cooking; if needed, remove any fat, flame to remove any bristles and clean off with a wet kitchen rag.
Combine in a bowl the toasted breadcrumbs, grated pecorino cheese, minced onion, chopped garlic, pinoli, the minced parsley and salt and pepper.
Mix all ingredients well and blend in the olive oil.
Place skin on a flat working surface, shiny side down and divide the filling equally among the 4 skins to cover completely and drizzle with olive oil.
Roll up each skin firmly and tie at least in 4 places with the twine.
Set on the side.
SAUTEING THE COTENNE
In a medium size skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat; add the whole cloves of garlic and quickly sauté the pittinicchi on all sides.
Set the sautéed skins on a dish and discard the oil and the garlic.
PREPARING THE SAUCE
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over a medium-high heat.
Add onions and cook until the onions are golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add tomato paste a little at a time, and keep stirring.
Cook it a few minutes and add ½ cup of water.
Strain canned tomatoes with a vegetable mill to eliminate the seeds or if you do not mind the seeds, use a blender to crush the tomatoes and pour into the saucepan.
Add salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and taste for salt.
Add the rolled pork skin and simmer for 1 and ½ hours.
THE PASTA WITH PORK SKINS IN GRAVY
In an abundant amount of salted water and following manufacturer’s recommendation, cook 1 pound of pasta al dente.
When pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot.
On a low flame, toss in about 1 cup of the sauce and blend it well.
Remove the pot from the heat and mix in some grated cheese.
Pour pasta in a warm large serving bowl, or make individual portions, top with tomato sauce and serve immediately.
Serve the pasta with cheese on the side and place the stuffed pittinicchi in a serving dish, covered with any remaining sauce.
Do not forget plenty of fresh Italian Bread and some good wine.