Recipe: Slow-cooked bolognese by Amanda Long

Bolognese sauce, also called Ragu, is a meat sauce slow simmered and broken down into a comforting warming sauce. Perfect dinner to come home to on a fall day. Bolognese originated from Bologna (not the lunch meat), Italy. This sauce is rich with flavor and easy enough to make even on weeknights if you follow the slow cooker version. If you have time on the weekend cook it on the stove top for an authentic sauce.

While tagliatelle are the traditional noodles used for this sauce, other flat noodles will work. I only had thin spaghetti in my pantry and it accomplished the job just as well. You can cook this recipe on the stove top or you can toss it in the slow cooker and come home to the sweet smell of dinner made. Bake some garlic bread and toss a garden salad and within minutes you have homemade dinner ready for a hectic weeknight.

Slow cooker bolognese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1 clove garlic

2/3 cup chopped celery

1 chuck roast, or other beef with good marbling

Salt and pepper

1 cup whole milk

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups diced San Marzano tomatoes

Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery and carrots. Cook for a few minutes, stirring the vegetables, add the garlic. Sweat for 15 minutes or so.

Add the wine and allow to evaporate.

Cube the chuck roast (you can do a mix of pork chops and beef) or used ground chuck or ground turkey. Salt and pepper all of the meat well. Add to the pan with the veggies and sauté and brown in a pan.

Add in the milk and simmer gently stirring frequently until the milk has completely reduced.

Slow cooker: If using your slow cooker, add the veggies and meat to your slow cooker. Stir in nutmeg, diced tomatoes and stir to coat all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for six hours.

Stove top: If you will continue this on your stove top, stir in the nutmeg and tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer, so low it only bubbles intermittently. Cook uncovered for three hours, stirring occasionally. If your sauce begins to dry out, add ½ cup of water as necessary. At the end there should be no water left at all, just a thick beautiful red sauce.

Notes: “Easy Cook’s Version” — You can use your favorite jar spaghetti sauce plus one cup water to replace the sauce in this recipe. But I suggest still using the carrots and onion; it will help out the spaghetti sauce.

Use meat with more marbling or a fattier ground beef (ground turkey rather than ground turkey breast) is better for this sauce. Turkey is lean so add a little oil (one tablespoon) while browning.

Amanda Long is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at She is also the owner of Chive Cooking.


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