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Nov 19, 2008 05:03 AM

Making Bolognese in the Slow Cooker, whats in yours?

Ragu Bolognese or Slow Cooker that is?

I am crying a little that I didn't take the time to brown the veg and meat before tossing it in the pot, but the thought of cooking with one eye open in the morning doesn't appeal to me.

There's carrots, celery, onion, diced tomatoes (canned, next year I'll can my own) beef, pork, and pork sausage. I added a can of tomato sauce since I do like a more tomatoy ragu. When I get home I'll taste and adjust the seasons. I do believe that when slow cooking, it's very easy to over season your food.

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  1. A very simple recipe:

    Finely chopped garlic, onion, celery and carrot
    Olive Oil
    Ground Veal, Beef, Pork and Pancetta
    Heavy Cream
    Tomato Paste
    Salt and Pepper
    Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

    Fresh Grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of Olive Oil over sauce and pasta before serving.

    Please note....I always cook on the stove top for this recipe...never tried it in a slow cooker

    5 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      I don't get doing it in a slow cooker at all.

      A ragu bolognese involves three *successive* reductions of different fluids (milk, wine, stock with a bit of tomato). The point is to do each reduction very slowly but *uncovered* so that it reduces. (And the browning of the meat is part of the flavor foundation). If you do this covered in a slow cooker, the reductions don't happen properly (both in terms of succession and in terms of evaporation), defeating the whole point of the thing. It may be a nice sauce, but it's far from a ragu bolognese.

      1. re: Karl S

        Do you do them in that order? Aromatics first in oo and butter, then meat (brown), then milk (reduce), wine (reduce) then stock (reduce)? With your tomato, do you add diced or pate? If paste, have you ever browned that with the aromatics before the meat? Thanks for all the answers... I made my first attempt last weekend after returning from Italy, and mine seemed dry (when I put in the fresh tagliatelle, it sucked up all the extra moisture and dried out the sauce),

        1. re: cheeseguysgirl

          I do them in that order, yes. Some canonical versions don't put dairy first (I use whole milk only, no cream), but my palate trusts the canonical versions that do - doing the dairy reduction (which takes the longest because dairy evaporates more slowly than the other liquids) first means that the more strongly acidic reductions occur later.

          I use tomato paste, not tomato, in the last reduction. Ragu bolognese is a meat sauce not a tomato sauce, and only uses a hint of tomato.

          If your ragu was dry, you may have used meat that was too lean. Ragu bolognese is not something for lean meat at all. I use 1/3 ground chuck (ground hanger or skirt steak would be more "authentic" but too pricey for me), 1/3 ground pork and 1/3 ground veal. The beef for flavor, the pork for sweetness and fat, and the veal for succulence (all that collagen - makes the sauce glaze magnificently).

          1. re: Karl S

            I used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground veal, since I'm eliminating pork from my diet. Not sure which type of beef it was, but it came from a meatloaf mix (basically had my butcher give me 2 of the three parts of the package). I also used tomato paste, but put it in first to brown it a bit (to improve the depth of flavor), then wine and then dairy last. Next time I will try to do it in your order, and use a higher fat content beef to compensate for the lack of pork.

            Thank you SO much for your input!

        2. re: Karl S

          Hey Karl, thanks for this. I'm relieved to know you disapprove of too much tomato. I've been using one from the NY TImes/Anne Burrell and it's too cloyingly tomatoey for me. It's a long slow dish - couple of hours, like a braise. You say your reductions are slow - what would you say is the overall length of time for your rag├╝? Grazie.

      2. I made this last week. Did brown ahead --mirepoix, ground beef, ground pork, pork italian sausage, milk, pureed tomatoes, wine. Started on the stove (including cooking the milk until it separates) and then in the slow cooker on high for about 8 hours with the lid off.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Amuse Bouches

          I took the top off and let it perk on high for the last two hours. It was wonderful. I will admit it was lacking some of the velvetness of slow cooking it, uncovered on the stove top.