Slow Cooker Bolognese
In our heart of hearts, we’re an Italian nonna who has all day to lovingly tend to a simmering pot of pasta sauce that’s destined for the dinner table. In reality, we’re more likely to order takeout. The compromise? This recipe for slow cooker Bolognese is a set-it-and-forget-it number that tastes rich and hearty without much effort on your end. (Will it taste as good as Nonna’s? We’ll let her be the judge.)
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 small carrot, peeled
1 celery stalk
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef (80/20)
½ cup tomato paste
¾ cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 pound pappardelle or other long pasta
1. Grate the onion, carrot and celery on the large holes of a box grater.
2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.
3. Wipe out the skillet, then add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and return to medium-high heat. Add the meat, season lightly with salt and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until it’s browned and very fine in texture, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it darkens slightly, about 5 minutes.
4. If your slow cooker has a Sauté setting, transfer the meat to the slow cooker, add the wine and set to Sauté on High. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost completely reduced, 5 to 7 minutes. (If your slow cooker does not have a Sauté setting, add the wine to the skillet and cook over medium heat until almost completely reduced, then transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.) Stir in the chicken stock and milk.
5. Cover the slow cooker and set to Slow Cook on Low for 6 hours; remove the lid in the last hour to allow the sauce to reduce slightly. At this point you can transfer half to a storage container and refrigerate or freeze for later use. (Alternatively, use 2 pounds of pasta to make 8 servings.)
6. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
7. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, add the remaining sauce, the pasta and ½ cup of the pasta water. Cook over medium-low heat, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta. Transfer to bowls to serve.