Bolognese Sauce (or Bolognaise as the English call it) is that classic Italian dish that everyone seems to have a different recipe for. Below is mine which I’ve perfected over many years and many attempts. This is the way I prefer to cook and eat it. I like to make Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce as it means I can put it on in the morning and it’s ready by dinner. The flavours have plenty of time to infuse and it makes the sauce much tastier. I make mine in the Slow Cooker but you could just as easily do the same in the oven. Just preheat the oven to 120C (250F) and make sure to use an ovenproof dish with a lid. The steps should then all be the same.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and peel and dice the onions. Add the onions to the oil and cook for about 3-5 minutes until they become translucent. Then slice the garlic and add this to the pan too, cooking for another couple of minutes.
Add the minced (ground) beef to the onions and garlic. I like to use one with about 15% fat, rather than the lean one. The fat makes the sauce richer and tastier but if you’re watching the calories/fat you can use lean beef. The long slow cooking time will tenderise the lean mince so you can get away with it. Brown the mince off in the pan for a couple of minutes until it’s all changed colour.
At this point you transfer everything to a Slow-Cooker or Crock Pot and then continue on with the rest of the steps. If you’re using the oven method then transfer to an oven proof dish with a lid and preheat the oven to 120C .
Add the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and turn the heat up to high on the Slow Cooker. I always add a bit of stock to mine at this point. Beef stock goes best and I think it gives the final sauce a much richer flavour. I also like to add red wine to my Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce for the same reason, so this goes in now too. Now it’s time for a rather strange addition…two anchovy fillets! They really give the sauce a salty richness and depth of flavour that just doesn’t happen with salt alone. Trust me, I promise it won’t taste fishy! You won’t even know they’re there!
Add the bay leaves and oregano and season well with plenty of salt and pepper. Let the entire dish heat through until it is bubbling. Now the important bit. Slow cook the sauce in the slow cooker for up to 8 hours (all day, or overnight) on the low/medium setting. This can also be done in the oven at 120C (250F). Make sure to use an oven proof dish with a lid so it doesn’t dry out.
This slow cooking allows the flavours to mellow and combine and it means that the mince is much more tender than if it is served straight away. You can leave it for longer than the suggested time if you like. It will only make the sauce even tastier – as long as you don’t burn it!! I love making recipes in the Slow Cooker as you can prepare them the night before and just turn it on when you leave for work. When you come home, dinner is ready and the house smells amazing.
With half an hour of cooking time left, take the lid off to allow some of the liquid to evaporate from the Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce. This allows the sauce to thicken slightly . Stir every 10 mins or so so that the top layer doesn’t dry out.
Then it’s ready to serve. It’s perfect over courgetti spaghetti (or proper pasta if you can eat it). I also use it to make my Paleo Lasagne or moussaka. Slow Cooked Bolognese is so versatile, there are so many things you can do with it. My dad likes it on toast (but there’s no accounting for his taste)! I like it straight out of a bowl with nothing else, almost like you would eat a bowl of chilli. I double this recipe when I need to make enough for a Lasagne or I want some leftovers! And the best thing is, it will keep for up to 5 days (and it tastes even better the next day) in the fridge. You can also freeze it in portions and just reheat when you want to use it until it’s piping hot all the way through.
This recipe makes enough for about 4 servings but I usually double it so that I can freeze some. Some people like to add mushrooms or carrots to it but I like to keep it just as it is – meaty and delicious! Sometimes the one addition I make is to add some fresh rosemary to it as it’s cooking, but only if I’m making it for myself as it’s really not everyone’s cup of tea. What’s your secret Bolognese recipe, tip or ingredient? What’s your family’s recipe? I’d love to hear other ideas in the comments.
Allergy & Dietary Information for Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce
This Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce recipe is Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free & Refined-Sugar Free. It’s also suitable for SCD, Paleo & Low Carb diets.
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