Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Good Bolognese sauce takes time, right?  Well, what if you used a slow cooker to cook down the sauce? That is the question I asked myself as I created this recipe.  I was tired of watery meat sauce, but I also didn't want to have to babysit a sauce for a couple of hours each time I made it.

This makes a nice, thick, flavorful sauce.  You could add 1/3 cup red wine to the mix to give it a stronger flavor.  Serve it warm over hot al dente pasta with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.  Add a salad and a side of crusty bread for a perfect weeknight supper.  This sauce can also be made ahead and keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Makes 6 cups of sauce

1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tblsp olive oil
2 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 carrot, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz can tomato paste
2 Tblsp sugar
1 lb ground beef, or bulk pork sausage (check sausage for gluten-containing ingredients)

Set up your food processor with a regular cutting blade, and pulse the onion and garlic until chopped medium-fine.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until yellow and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

In the meantime, pulse the tomato chunks in the food processor until chopped fine.  Add to the crock of a 4.5 quart slow cooker.  Change the blade of the food processor to a grating disk and grate the carrot.

Add the carrot, tomato paste, spices and sugar to the onion mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes longer combining well before adding to the crock.

Fry the meat in the now-empty skillet, chopping occasionally to break the meat into very small pieces.  Add the cooked meat to the crock and stir to combine with the other ingredients.  Cook on low heat setting for 3-4 hours.  Check the seasonings before serving.