Charcuterie boards are all the rage, and I am totally on board (haha). The variety of delicious cured meats from around the world is ever expanding, and what could be easier than filling a platter with delicious meats, a few nuts, some pickles, maybe some dried fruit and there you go. Or adding salty cured meats to a display of cheeses. I make them in seasonal themes, color schemes and all manner of interesting layouts. I’ve taught a class on it! But I frequently have some leftovers – little bits of salami or prosciutto. Or let’s be honest, sometimes I buy too much and I can’t get it all on my board. And occasionally, when I see something that looks good, I buy it in anticipation of a theoretical charcuterie board that never materializes before I need to use those lovely bits of meat. So here is my no waste solution. Rich tomato stewed with cured meats to make a really unique version of meat sauce.
I use whatever I happen to have to hand – hard salami, Genoa salami, prosciutto (I’ll list some more ideas in the notes), but frankly this sauce is good enough to buy some charcuterie just to make it. I pulse the chopped pieces of the meat in a food processor (a mini is super easy, but you can use a full size) just to create the texture of a sausage meat or ground beef, not too chunky, not a paste. The meat you use will flavor the final result, so if you use a very garlicky salami, cut back on the garlic, if you add a spicy salami, that’s a whole different flavor (if you don’t, add a few red pepper flakes if you want), a salty country ham will bump up the salt, so go slowly in adding more. I really like the simplicity of this, but you could add Italian seasoning or fresh basil should the mood take you. Since I already have the food processor out, I use it to chop the onion, but you can do it by hand or even buy some pre-diced onion to speed things up even more. The low-and-slow cook time really deepens the flavor of the tomato and infuses it with all the richness of the meats.
Use this in any way you would use meat sauce, on a long thin pasta, a short chunky or tubular pasta, even in a lasagna. It freezes perfectly if you make a big batch, but if you don’t have 10 ounces of charcuterie, half the recipe.
For ideas for cheese board leftovers, check out my Cheese Board Chowder.
Charcuterie Board Pasta Sauce
1 medium yellow onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces mixed cured meats (see note)
3 – 4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
½ cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1 cup water
- Pour the olive oil in a large deep skillet or sauté pan. Cut the onion into small chunks and pulse in a small food processor until finely diced. Add to oil in the pan and set aside. Wipe out the food processor so there is no onion in it (do not rinse with water). Cut the cured meats into small pieces and, a handful at a time, pulse to chop to the consistency of ground beef or sausage. Pulse, don’t grind, you don’t want a paste, and do it in batches, removing each batch to a plate or a bowl before pulse the next. A few larger pieces are fine, but if you overload the processor you won’t get all the pieces finely chopped.
- Cook the onion over medium-high heat until it is soft and glassy, stirring frequently. Add the ground cured meats and stir to combine. Cook for a further 4 – 5 minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Put the garlic cloves through a press and cook a further minute, stirring. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it develops a rich brick red color. Pour in the wine, and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, then pour in the tomato puree and the water (I like to swish the water in the tomato can to get our any stray puree). Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
- The sauce can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for three months.
- Use any combination of cured meats you like – genoa salami, hard salami, prosciutto, bresaola, country ham, speck, coppa, capicolla
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