October 24, 2016

Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce | The Naptime Chef

It is well-known in grade school land that October is the month of teacher conferences and half-day dismissals which is means that carefully laid routine of September is basically thrown out the window for a couple of weeks. It is an incredible pain in the a** for busy parents and the best way to deal with the food aspect of it, at least in my opinion, is with the slow-cooker. Prep food early in the day, let it cook while you scurry around to early pick-ups and coordinate playdates, and then serve dinner once everyone is finally able to wind down.

Last week I tackled my first ever slow-cooker bolognese and it was ideal for the busy week. I prepped the sauce in the morning and we ate it for two nights over pasta and polenta. Making it was a total snap and this recipe was absolutely delicious. It tasted just like the bolognese sauce I order at our favorite Italian restaurant.

This winter I definitely plan on making this again and using it for lasagna or baked ziti. It would also be amazing with homemade ricotta gnocchi or over zoodles! I should also note that I am sure this would freeze well. I didn’t have any left to freeze after our meal, but next time I might increase the recipe so I do!

Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce
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  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 28-ounces cans peeled tomatoes with juices
  • For serving:
  • Pasta or Polenta
  • Finely grated Parmesan


  1. In a large, wide skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely softened, but not brown. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  2. Add the beef and the seasoning to the skillet and use a spoon to break up the meat. Stir in the salt and cook the meat until it is no longer pink. Then add the seasoning and milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook the milk for about 5 minutes, or until it has evaporated. Then add the wine and cook for another 5 minutes, or until is has completely evaporated.
  3. Transfer the beef mixture to the bowl of a slow-cooker and add the tomatoes. Use a spoon to break the tomatoes into large chunks. Cook the sauce on low heat for 6 to 8 hours, or high heat for 4 hours. Stir the sauces occasionally, using the spoon to break up the tomatoes as needed.
  4. Toward the end of cooking remove the lid of the slow-cooker and let any excess liquid evaporate from the sauce. The sauce should be thick and juicy, not runny.
  5. Serve sauce over cooked pasta or polenta with a generous topping of Parmesan.

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