I love my slow cooker, but even I was skeptical of this recipe. Why? Because it does NOT call for browning the meat before adding it to the crockpot! If you use a slow cooker regularly, you know that usually that is what is called for before putting meat into the pot. But I’m here to tell you, this was fantastic sauce! Even my husband, who spends hours cooking homemade tomato sauces like an old Italian grandmother was amazed – and a little put out, since he felt it was even better than his recipe! What’s interesting is that you DO cook the vegetables and tomato paste prior to adding the to the pot.
The sauce is really, really good. The meat is very tender, and the several hour cooking time really brings all of the flavors together!
The recipe (modified a bit from the original; I like mine with more herbs):
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dry red wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 cup chopped green olives
3 teaspoons dried basil and/or oregano, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh
Pasta, for serving
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomato paste, thyme and nutmeg, and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened and started to brown, about 2 minutes. Deglaze with the wine, pulling up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Carefully transfer to the slow cooker. Stir in the cream and tomatoes. Mix the pork and sirloin together in a separate bowl, using your hands, until combined. Stir the meat into the slow cooker, spreading out evenly and avoiding any large clumps. Add the basil and/or oregano and olives. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours. Skim the accumulated grease from the surface before serving.
Serve over pasta with crusty bread for soaking up the sauce.