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Favorite holiday meals from two LA chefs

Cotechino with lentils by Chef Steve Samson.  Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times/Courtesy Steve Samson

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Food is a major part of holidays celebrations, and cultural and familial traditions reign supreme. Marketplace Weekend spoke to Los Angeles chefs Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria) and Steve Samson (Rossoblu and Sotto) about the foods they make with their families during the holidays, and how they bring those traditions into their restaurants. Click the audio player above to hear the full interview about Garcia’s tamales, a Mexican holiday favorite, and Samson’s tortellini en brodo, an Italian classic his family has been making for years. Plus, tips for how to cook for a big group on a budget.

Samson’s other classic holiday dish is cotechino sausage with lentils, an Italian dish that is said to symbolize prosperity in the New Year (the lentils represent little coins). Here’s the recipe:

Cotechino with Lentils

One cotechino sausage, heated following producer’s instructions
2 cups Castelluccio lentils (or de Puy)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
2 tablespoons diced carrot
2 tablespoons diced pancetta
4 cups meat stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pancetta. Once pancetta gas rendered and begun to crisp, add onions, celery, and carrot. Season and cook until soft. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are just cooked through but still have a little bit of bite. The lentils should absorb almost all of the stock. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the butter and parsley. Slice the cooked cotechino and serve atop the lentils.

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