Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is going to be on my Sunday Sauce rotation from now on! Hearty, flavorful and lean, this is a dish that makes everyone happy!
My Mother-in-Law is Italian, which means my husband grew up on a very steady diet of pasta and “gravy”. When we got married I quickly learned that Sunday Sauce was a whole thing in his world… so of course, I wanted to be part of his tradition. (I actually included the recipe that we make in our house, that originated in his mother’s kitchen in my book!) Unfortunately as my kids have gotten older, our Sundays have gone from lazy, lounge days to full blown travel sports days. It’s the season of life I am in right now.
That’s where this Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce comes in. The recipe is from my friend Gina’s new cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow. I am sure you all know Gina, the brains (and beauty) behind the wildly popular website, Skinnytaste.com. Well, she just released her second cookbook and this one is geared towards busy lives! The book is packed with fantastic recipes that are lighter on fat and calories, but still loaded with flavor…AND the concept is the recipes are all quick to make OR can be made in the slow cooker. Such a great idea.
So, my answer to Sunday Sauce on days when I don’t have a few hours to spend at home is this Slow Cooker Bolognese. You can prep it in the morning before sports, church, work, school… and then when you come home, not only will the house smell amazing, but you will have a healthy (and delicious) dinner waiting for you!
The base of this bolognese recipe is a mixture of onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta (I actually used bacon, but of course pancetta is leaner). I added a little garlic in too…why not, right?
Go ahead and cook your pancetta (or bacon) until the fat renders. Then sauté your vegetables to soften them up. I sautéed my veggies in the bacon grease, but as the recipe is written you will be using pancetta, which isn’t as fatty…so you will need to add 1 tablespoon of butter. Either way it will be great!
Once the veggies are soft add in lean ground beef and cook that, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Next add some white wine, and cook until it reduces slightly…and then of course crushed tomatoes. Place a few Bay Leaves into the sauce and then cover to cook on high heat for 3-4 hours.
When it’s done it will look like this…
Add in a little half and half to add to its richness and then dig in!
Of course you can serve it over pasta…
With some Parmesan cheese, of course!
Gina says this is good on zucchini noodles as well as spaghetti squash for a great low carb option!
I am thoroughly enjoying Skinnytaste Fast and Slow and know you will too!
- ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 (28- ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup half and half
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Heat a large, deep, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. (Alternately if your slow cooker has a saute setting you can do these steps using that feature.) Add the pancetta and cook, stirring until the fat renders, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the butter, onion, celery, and carrots and cook until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the garlic and ground beef, and season it with ¾ teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces as it browns, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook 3 to 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and more pepper to taste.
- Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
- Discard bay leaves, stir in half and half, and parsley and serve.
* I used bacon instead of pancetta and omitted the butter, using the bacon grease to saute the vegetables.
*I added 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper when I added the tomato sauce.
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