Everyone needs a reliable recipe for a Sunday sauce. Something that simmers away while you spend the day doing as you do without thought of how the sauce is faring.
I have spent years (dare I say, decades?!) working on my recipe. I’ve gleaned inspiration from many sources. What results is a large batch of meaty red sauce that serves well for the current week, with enough remains for a freezer stash.
Extended cooking time allows for ingredients to loosen up and mingle, resulting in a sauce that boasts texture without being chunky. As it is also packed with the flavors of fresh herbs and vegetables, feel free to go meat-free by simply omitting the ground meat and the steps where it’s involved. Shredding the vegetables in a food processor makes for quick prep.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground meat
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 large carrots, brushed clean and shredded
4 medium celery stalks, cleaned, trimmed and shredded
2 medium sweet onions, peeled, quartered and shredded
16 ounces baby bella mushrooms, wiped cleaned and shredded
2 (28 ounce) cans tomato puree
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (12 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh cold water
freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional for serving)
Assemble a 6-quart slow cooker.
Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Crumble the meat into the skillet and cook until browned. Flavor with rosemary, sage, basil, salt, pepper flakes, and garlic. Stir to combine and allow garlic to heat up for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
Plug in the slow cooker and ready for an 8-hour cycle or low heat setting. Using a slotted spoon (so you may separate the meat from the pan juices) scoop up the meat and layer it into the bottom of the slow cooker. Stir in the carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms. Pour in the tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and water. Add the remaining olive oil and give the sauce a good stir.
Cover and cook for 8 hours. Makes about 6 quarts. You may freeze this sauce in an air-tight container for up to 4 months. Be sure to defrost in the refrigerator and heat thoroughly before serving.