Ok, let’s face it. It’s December 13th, you probably have most of your Christmas shopping done (I hope!), but there are a million little things you still need to get, and if you’re like me, none of your gifts are wrapped yet. You’ve got a million holiday related parties to attend, so making dinner each night is not at the forefront of your mind – you’re probably lucky if you get some Kraft mac and cheese and glass of ice water on the table before 9pm.
I get it. I’m the same way right now. Last night Kevin and I ate appetizers masked as dinner, the night before we went out for dinner since there was literally nothing I could turn into a meal in our fridge, and the night before that Kevin ate a frozen pizza, and I stuffed my face with leftover pasta and Thanksgiving leftovers (yes I’m gross and still was eating leftovers from Thanksgiving).
The lack of ingredients in our fridge may have had a little something to do with someone only buying the items needed for blog posts…..
Total wife fail.
Goal for 2014: Do not neglect husband.
This time of the year I’m craving hearty dishes like I a crave a cold beer in the middle of August, but as previously mentioned the holidays just don’t allow time for most of us to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. So what’s a girl to do??
Why break out the slow-cooker of course.
I’ve been dying for a hearty bolongese for weeks now, but it takes FOREVER to cook if you want to make it right; the flavors need to develop for hours and hours or you just won’t have that deep, rich flavor a true Bolognese should have. While this does require a smidge of stove-top cooking, the majority of the work is done by the slow-cooker, so you’ll be free to run errands, get some baking done or just do nothing at all if you’re one of the smart ones who got all their to-dos done early.
Carrots, onions, celery and a little bit of garlic are pulverized in a food processor and then cooked up with ground beef, ground pork and ground veal. I really like this combination of meat, but if you don’t have access to veal, you can use extra ground pork to replace it.
Once the meat is cooked through, and the veggies are softened, it’s hit with a generous dousing of white wine and then reduced. Stir in a little bit of tomato paste, cook for a few minutes and then dump everything into the slow-cooker, along with the tomatoes, water, bay leaves and salt. Turn on low, and let it do its magical thing.
I seriously couldn’t get over how wonderful our whole house smelled, even just a few hours into the cooking process. And the end result was even better than I imagined, hearty, rich and totally decadent. We served it with fat pappardelle noodles, but any sturdy noodle will work well. Also, this makes A LOT of sauce, so I used half for us (with plenty for leftovers), and then cooled the other half and froze it to use when I’m having another crazy I don’t have time to cook week
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- ¼ pound ground veal
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomato
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup whole milk
- Parmesan cheese
- In the food processor, puree celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Heat a large skillet over a medium heat, add olive oil. Add veggies, meat and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to the skillet. Cook, breaking up meat into small pieces, should take about 10 minutes.
- Once the veggies and meat are cooked through, deglaze the pan with white wine, making sure to scrape on the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer until wine has almost evaporated.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook for one to two minutes.
- Dump into the slow-cooker and then stir in, crushed tomatoes, remaining salt, pepper, bay leaves and water. Turn on low and cook for 6 hours.
- After six hours, add in whole milk and turn to high, cook another one to two hours until reduced. If it’s still not reduced, remove lid and cook another 20-30 minutes. Remove any grease that has accumulated on top of the sauce and discard.
- Serve with your favorite noodle.
- *Note: If you are not going to be home during the cooking process you can put all the ingredients in the slow-cooker in the beginning and cook on low for 8-10 hour, then turn on high when you get home and cook for another 20-30 minutes to reduce.. Also, this can be made ahead of time, cooled and the whole dish can be placed in the fridge. Most of the grease will rise to the top while it chills, so it’s much easier to scoop off.