I feel kind of like a caveman when I walk into the kitchen and there’s a dish bubbling away for hours and hours. There’s something primal about throwing ingredients together in a thick clay pot on low heat – like the edge of a banked fire—and letting them stew. I wonder if any prehistoric cooks made something like this recipe.
Of course, I’m glad I’m not a Neolithic cook, because I doubt I’d have some important ingredients, like red wine, tomatoes, parmesan, or Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Linguine to serve with this tender, flavorful ragu. (I also don’t know if I could keep a fire going to cook something for eight hours. Thank goodness for slow cookers!)
They were on to something, though, back in caveman days. Simmering everything for hours makes it so tender and so full of flavor. The only difficult part of this recipe is mincing up all the veggies. (However, all the mincing makes for a great way to hide veggies from picky eaters!) If you have a chopper or a food processor, then you might want to pull it off the shelf; otherwise, you will have plenty of time to practice your cutting technique. To make this recipe even more convenient, you could prepare ingredients in the evening, throw them together in the morning before work, and everything will be ready for an evening meal.
“Throw them together” is literally the only instruction you need for this recipe. Put all the minced veggies, meat, and spices in your slow cooker and mix ‘em up. Turn the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. Cover and walk away.
Toward the end of the cooking time, your kitchen will smell like a comforting little slice of heaven, heavy on the onions, meat, and spices. The meat will become dark and tender, and the sauce will turn a rich warm reddish orange from all the veggies. If your sauce has a lot of liquid, like mine (lots of moisture comes out of all the cooked veggies), leaving the lid off for the last hour of cooking time gives it time to evaporate.
When the sauce is ready to serve, boil a pot of water and prepare your pasta. I’m making Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Linguine today, but if you or someone in your family doesn’t eat gluten free, this sauce is also delicious with whole wheat pasta such as Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Fettuccine. Either one is ready in about five minutes.
Serve the dish immediately, piping hot, with a drizzle of olive oil and a garnish of chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. So easy, and so delicious! It’s a satisfying meal that will remind you why you got a slow cooker in the first place.
Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce with Gluten Free Linguine
- 2 cups carrots, minced
- 2 cups celery, minced
- 2 cups yellow onion, minced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, minced (I used Baby Bella)
- 4 oz. bacon or pancetta, minced
- 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. lean ground beef, such as sirloin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped (2 tsp dried)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped (2 tsp. dried)
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup dry red wine, or may substitute beef broth
- 30 oz. chopped tomatoes, or 2 14.5 oz. cans
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more to serve
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more to serve
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more to serve
- 1 box Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Linguine
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved, to serve
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
Place all sauce ingredients (everything from carrots through olive oil in the ingredients list) in a 6-8 quart slow cooker. Cook covered on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally if possible. Remove lid and stir occasionally for last hour of cook time to allow moisture to evaporate and sauce to thicken slightly. Season cooked sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving.
When sauce is ready to serve, prepare pasta according to package instructions. Serve sauce over cooked pasta. Give each serving an extra drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and some parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce can also be served with whole wheat pasta such as Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Fettuccine. If desired, use a mixture of ground beef, pork, veal, or game such as venison, elk, or bison. (If using game, I suggest pairing with ½ ground pork or pork sausage, since game can be extremely lean). Sauce freezes well and will keep in freezer for at least 3-4 months.
Adapted from Gill’s Bolognese Recipe, River Cottage
Makes 6-8 servings
You can find Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce with Gluten Free Linguine and other recipes from Hodgson Mill by visiting the Recipes page.