Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
Real Bolognese (in Italian, ragù alla bolognese) is a pasta sauce all about time and patience—it can take as long as 6 hours to simmer aromatic vegetables, ground meats, wine, milk, and tomatoes into a rich amalgam. You can turn all that carefully attended stovetop production into something more manageable by pulling out the slow cooker. Patience is still a factor (your nonna wouldn’t have it any other way), but the sauce can simmer away on its own, while you go do something else. Our recipe is based on Lori Lange’s Slow Cooker Bolognese. We recommend our garlic bread recipe for dipping.
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta, diced
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, coarsely chopped and juices reserved
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
1Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes.
2Drain the mushrooms, but reserve the soaking water for later. Chop the mushrooms into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
3Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a large slow cooker.
4In the same skillet, add the beef, onions, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring, until the carrots have softened and the meat is no longer pink, about 8 to 10 minutes.
5Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chopped mushrooms and cook, constantly stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the wine, stir, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the reserved mushroom liquid.
6Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juices as well as the tomato paste and stir well. Cook for 4 hours on high, removing the lid for the last 30 minutes. Alternatively, cook for 8 to 10 hours on low, removing the lid for the last hour.
7Serve over pasta.
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