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Author Notes: With the days getting colder, we were in need of comfort food. For me, that meant pasta bolognese and I wanted to use my slow cooker. There's something comforting about food gently simmering away in a Crockpot. This bolognese is adapted from a few recipes. The resulting sauce is so good (without being too rich) that we had pasta bolognese all week. Use a red wine that you like to drink. It doesn't have to be an expensive red. In fact, I used my husband's favorite red, the Yellowtail shiraz-cabernet blend, which is ~$7 a bottle and the resulting sauce is swoon-worthy. —HalfPint
Makes 2.5 quarts
- 2 cups chopped carrots (~2 large carrots)
- 2 cups chopped celery (~3 large celery stalks)
- 3 cups chopped onions (~1 very large onion)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed finely with your hands
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme or thyme powder
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 28 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup drinkable dry red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
- In a large skillet, brown the carrots, celery, onions & garlic in the olive oil.
- Once the vegetables start to caramelize, add the oregano and thyme. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the tomato paste. Mix to combine the tomato paste. You'll get a lovely orange/red tinge to the mixture. Cook and stir for ~1 minute, taking care not to burn the mixture. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add tomatoes to the slow cooker with the vegetable mixture. If using whole peeled tomatoes, crush the tomatoes with your hand and add to the slow cooker.
- In the same skillet, brown the beef. You can do in batches if needed. Transfer to the slow cooker with a slotted spoon if there's too much fat. I use grass-fed beef that is probably ~15% fat and doesn't have much fat rendered out after browning.
- Add milk, wine, salt, and bay leaves slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover with lid. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for ~6 hours, stirring about every hour or so.
- Taste and add more salt if needed. Discard the bay leaves. Serve with your favorite pasta.
- Note: this makes a fairly thick sauce. When I make pasta bolognese, I keep ~1/2 cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce, then I finish the pasta in the sauce.