In the Kitchen with Jackie — Braised Sausage and Lentils

When I think of New Year’s Eve celebrations, luxury items come to mind. Special splurges to ring in the New Year like champagne and caviar. But after a night of indulgence it’s comforting to return to home-cooked meals. It is quite common for cultures to usher in the New Year with humble dishes signifying wealth and prosperity for the year ahead. After 2020 I think we could all use a little good fortune, and what better way to do so than cooking it up in the kitchen?

In the southern United States, eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. Black eyed peas are symbolic of pennies, collard greens represent leafy dollar bills. These are braised together with salted pork and rice.

  • Germans have been eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s for generations because they believe it brings good luck. The sauerkraut is believed to bring about as many riches as there are shreds of cabbage – that’s a lot of riches! Cabbage is harvested in the fall and the fermented sauerkraut is ready to eat by New Years.
  • Cotechino e Lenticchie is the traditional dish served in Italy. Hailing from Umbria, it features a coarse ground sausage on a bed on lentils. The small lentils represent coins to bring you an entire year of wealth.

It seems like eating a lot of little legumes that resemble money is the surefire way to bring wealth and riches in 2021! Another common ingredient is pork. But what makes pork the luckiest meat? The Pennsylvania Dutch reason that it’s because of the way the pigs snuffle around for food, they’re constantly moving forward – as we would like to move forward into the New Year. Additionally, it makes sense from a seasonal farming perspective. Pigs are traditionally slaughtered in late fall, which made pork an ideal choice to set aside for upcoming holidays and celebrating the New Year. 

Borrowing elements from these dishes, I’ve created a recipe to make your own luck in 2021. First, I started off with phenomenal pancetta sausages from Iberian Pastures (available in Di Bruno’s retail stores) to represent our prosperous pork. The sausages are added to braised lentils (to represent coins) and kale (for dollar bills) and lastly some crushed tomatoes to remind us of the warmer months ahead. This is best served warm with some crusty bread. It also makes delicious leftovers, if there are any!

What New Year’s culinary traditions do you celebrate? Post in the comments! 
Happy New Year from all of us at Di Bruno’s!

Braised Sausage and Lentils
Serves 4

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a dutch oven or a stove-to-oven pan, brown sausages over medium high heat for about 3 minutes per
  3. side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan using the rendered fat from the sausages add onion and garlic to the pan and stir frequently to prevent burning for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft.

Stir in lentils, tomatoes, stock, kale, and oregano. 
Place the lid on the pan and place in the oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes check on lentils. If they aren’t tender return them to the oven with a little more stock for another 10 minutes. If they are tender add the sausages back to the pan and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes until the sausages are firm and cooked through.

Serve warm with thick slices of bread and sprinkling of parsley. 

Previously on In the Kitchen with Jackie: 


    Hello! My name is Jackie Botto and I’ve been working with Di Bruno Bros. for over five years – styling, photographing and sometimes cooking with all the phenomenal ingredients they offer. CHEESE? Yes, mostly cheese. This blog is the space where I’ll share the things I make. No, I am not a professional chef, I’m a home chef! I cook for myself, my family, my friends – and then I take photos of what I make with the hope it inspires you to cook too.Want to share some tips or pairings of your own? Please leave a comment below!