Using a slow cooker is an easy way to create a flavorful meal for your family. You throw everything into the cooker, let it do its magic and savor the results. Spaghetti bolognese is especially well-suited to slow cookers because it tastes best when simmered slowly to develop the flavors. The “spaghetti” part of the name means you serve it over spaghetti noodles. Bolognese sauce, also known as "ragu bolognese," is from the Bologna region of Italy. Made with meat, vegetables, milk, wine and seasonings, it’s a thick, sophisticated sauce that takes a little time to prepare.
Things You'll Need
- Ground beef
- Ground pork
- Meat thermometer
- Onion, chopped
- Other vegetables, chopped
- Tomatoes, diced
- Garlic, minced
- Dry white wine
- Slow cooker
- Spaghetti noodles
Brown even amounts of the ground beef and pork together in a large skillet over medium heat. Use a meat thermometer to check that the meat registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it’s safely cooked. Add the chopped onion and any other vegetables to the browned meat. Saute the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Drain the excess liquid from the skillet.
Stir an ample amount of diced tomatoes into the skillet. Stir a little minced garlic and other seasonings into the skillet. Mix well. Stir a little milk and wine into the skillet. Simmer the mixture until the liquid reduces by about half, stirring frequently.
Pour the mixture into a slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker with a lid and cook for 7 to 8 hours on low. Stir well before serving.
Cook and drain the spaghetti noodles. Stir the noodles into the sauce and serve.
Tips & Warnings
- For the best results, use an ample amount of meat and vegetables to thicken the sauce. Using too much milk and wine can turn the sauce into more of a soup. Use the garlic, seasonings, milk and wine in small portions because you want them to add only a hint of flavor.
- Vegetables well-suited to Bolognese sauce include celery and carrots. Seasonings include parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Dry white wines include Riesling and pinot gris.
- Use seasoned tomato sauce instead of tomatoes and seasonings for a shortcut.
- Don’t skip the simmering step to save time; bolognese should be a thick sauce. If you just pour the plain mixture into the slow cooker and cover with a lid, the moisture gets trapped. That’s why you simmer away some moisture first and then add it to the slow cooker. Sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the sauce also helps release some moisture.
- Don’t cook the noodles with the sauce since doing so may make the sauce inconsistent and the noodles soggy. In terms of taste, it’s better to cook the noodles separately and serve them with the sauce.
- Cook's Country: Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- Food Terms: Ragu
- Food Safety: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
- Photo Credit ITStock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images