My kids are consistently inconsistent. If you ask me what they’ll do in a given situation, I can make an educated guess, but honestly, I’m as curious as anyone how it’ll turn out. Usually, I like this about them. I like that they are always growing and changing, and I appreciate how one’s behavior can depend on their mood.
I don’t love this whimsical trait of my children when it comes to dinnertime. If I make a favorite food, I expect them to wolf it down the same every time, not announce “I don’t like tacos anymore.”
It was because of this possibility that I didn’t double this Crock Pot Beef Bolognese recipe. While my gut told me they’d love it, I was afraid of a pasta strike, which would have left me with a tanker truck’s worth of delicious sauce. I know this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but my freezer isn’t very big.
I shouldn’t have worried. Everyone happily ate this delicious sauce, both over pasta and mopped up with garlic bread, and all that ended up in the freezer after two nights of pasta dinners was a small quart-sized resealable bag. This actually makes quite a bit of sauce, and had I tried to double it, I would have had to use two Crock Pots. My slow cooker was pretty full.
Now, this recipe is different from any other meat sauce I’ve made in the past, in that you don’t brown the beef before putting it in the sauce. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I loved it! Two slices of bread are soaked in half-and-half and mixed with ground beef, salt, and pepper; that mixture is crumbled into the tomato sauce, and it cooks up perfectly. You’ll want to make sure you use very lean ground beef, otherwise your sauce will be a little bit greasy, and that’s not what we’re looking for, is it?
I was happy to still have fresh basil in my garden, and I highly recommend making sure you’ve got some on hand for your beef bolognese. It’s a delicious touch!
Serve with your favorite pasta (we used fettucine), a green salad, and garlic bread, and you’ve got an amazing weeknight dinner or an easy and lovely meal for a special gathering.
I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this Crock Pot Beef Bolognese.
Crock Pot Beef Bolognese
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1/4 cup minced celery
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine or beef broth
- 2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 2 slices bread
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs very lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet, over medium-high heat, brown onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in oil until they are soft (just a few minutes). Reduce heat to low and stir in tomato paste. Add red wine (or beef broth), and mix until smooth. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat and transfer to slow cooker. Stir in crushed tomatoes.
- Place torn bread slices in a large bowl and pour in half-and-half. Give it a stir until a thick paste is formed. Add ground beef, salt, and pepper, and mix with hands until combined.
- Crumble uncooked beef mixture into tomato mixture in slow cooker.
- Gently stir sauce until combined.
- Cover crockpot and cook on high 4-5 hours OR on low 6-7 hours.
- Before serving, use a spoon to break up meat into bite-sized chunks and stir basil into sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve over hot pasta.
I love making bolognese in the crock and this was a version that I would make again for sure. That said, this is NOT a dump and go crock recipe so be prepared to do a little work before hand – it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid of the raw beef in the sauce, it cooked up just fine. The flavor was delicious. I made is as-is without any tweaks. Very kid friendly. Yum!
This sauce was delicious! Everyone liked it and happily ate it for a couple of meals, and we had a little left over that we froze. I wish I would have doubled it so I could have more in my freezer for another day!
Recipe modified from Whole and Heavenly Oven.
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