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New flavoursome spaghetti bolognaise sauce recipe cooked in the slow cooker/crock pot


Photo: Spaghetti sauce for heroes

Photo: Spaghetti sauce for heroes

Danny is picky about pasta. Won’t eat macaroni and the thought of penne has him panicking that I might actually have finally got up the nerve to cook it for him.
“I like linguine, spaghetti, angel hair.”
I don’t ever mention ravioli since this terrible disaster.

We eat a lot of spaghetti bolognaise. Frozen in flat ziplock bags it takes just half an hour max from freezer to plate. We’ve been eating versions of our patent recipe for years and I decided to see if I could make it tastier. I have to let you into a secret here – gradually I’ve reduced the meat content since posting this old recipe – so much so that the last time that we chomped through 16 portions of the stuff it had moved so far away from the original recipe that it tasted although the beef was just sprinkled into the mix as a seasoning.

Something had to be done as we eat spag bol at least twice a week. I could have returned to the original recipe but times have moved on. I have new techniques to hand and knew that I could improve on the recipe. The older one is watery when unfrozen. Very tasty but not truly exceptional.

I think that I’ve made a cracking sauce this time – a good meaty flavour but as with our older recipe a lot of veggies. The sauce is thicker too so freezes well without weeping when unfrozen. The Min Pins are disappointed as their biscuits were soaked in these watery tears.

Following Seraphina’s advice I used a better quality mince too. This is often on offer if you but two packs at Waitrose. Well worth the extra investment. This recipe makes about 14 – 16 big portions for greedy people.

I reckon that this recipe could be simmered on the stove top but the flavours wouldn’t be quite as intense. Slow cooker/crock pot food equals good mellow notes. I often look at our budget slow cooker (Tesco sale) and marvel at its skill at producing wonderful flavours.

This is best served with a really fresh green salad just dressed with a good virgin olive oil, a large pinch of salt and lots of ground black pepper. We always eat garlic bread with pasta but that’s because we are greedy.

New flavoursome spaghetti bolognaise sauce recipe

800g-900g of minced beef (10% fat). Aberdeen Angus is by far the best if you can get it at a decent price.
2 x 450g tins of chopped tomatoes
30g of choritzo sliced and chopped very fine
750g of pasatta
450 ml of beef stock (I added 2 beef stock cubes)
4 medium courgettes (grated)
400g of carrots (grated)
Small head if celery sliced very fine
6 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
4 tbsp of flour
1 teaspoon of anchovy sauce (or one salted anchovy rinsed and chopped fine)
Small handful of dried mushrooms (soaked in a teacup in boiling water for five minutes – add the mushroom water to the dish)
1 heaped teaspoon of Marigold vegetable stock powder / bouillon
1 teaspoon of good mixed dried herbs (genuine Herbs of Provence are ideal)
Large dash of ground black pepper at the end
3 heaped tablespoons of freshly (finely) grated Parmesan cheese to serve


Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and stir very well to distribute the flour evenly. Switch to high for an hour until everything is bubbling well then low for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally right to the base of the pot. The sauce is cooked when the vegetables are soft.
N.B. I tried switching to auto as an experiment for 3.5 hours and the results were not nearly as good as the method above!

Spoon the sauce over freshly cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese to serve. Why not be generous and put a little extra Parmesan on the table too – just one tiny square produces lots of finely grated cheese!

  Leave a reply


  1. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife

    My boyfriend is half Italian so takes on the bolognaise cooking responsibilities. His family have always used pork mince instead of beef mince (maybe pork was more freely available where they lived in Italy?) and it’s cooked for hours and hours and hours…

    I might see if I can convince him to try a slow cooker variant instead – sounds like a great way to do it. Have you tried frying the meat first? Does it make enough of a difference to bother?

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello SOL

    I’m pretty stingy with meat too! But find courgettes as good as carrots. We didn’t have a glut this year but when we do I grate them in the Magimix and freeze them in bags to use during the winter.

    Yes chorizo is pork.

    Hello Susan

    Yes ditto – I just had chorizo to hand and it worked well. Good idea using the sauce in pies and lasagna – must do that too.

    Hi Casalba

    Mixing pork and beef is ingenious. I’ve tried using that mix in burgers (Heston B) and they were delicious. Now next step is to try the mix in bolognaise sauce. Thank you.

    Hi Sarah

    Great tips that you so much. Must try your version when I want a meatier sauce. I love the Tiptree tomato sauce!

    Hi Veronica

    Yes we used to add chicken livers too – so long ago that I’d forgotten all about it. Thanks for the nudge!

    I’m clearly a celery slut!

    Hi Kooky Girl

    Oh my heart goes out to you. No Pasta 🙁

    Carbonara – love it too.

  3. Kooky Girl

    This sounds very flavoursome and tasty. I have taken to eaten bolognese sauce with rice, although I would rather have pasta. The problem being that our nine year old daughter will eat NO pasta whatsoever – consider yourself lucky that Danny will at least tolerate some of it. :o) Aw, that has me practically dreaming about spaghetti carbonara now…

  4. Another tip for a meatier, deeper-flavoured sauce is to add some chopped up chicken liver. I picked this up from Elizabeth David. Love your tip about the courgettes, I’ve been adding them to my ragu ever since you first mentioned it! I would never go beyond one stick of celery though 🙂

  5. Ihave stopped using tinned tomatoes or passata in my ‘ragu’ (don’t think any Italian would ever grace it with this name, but I can dream’!) The liquid comes from the water from dried porcini mushrooms, a large glass of red wine – and for tomato ‘flavour’ a large splosh of tomato ketchup (Tiptree brand). I like a meatier sauce and find taking tomatoes out stops the wateriness once defrosted as well.

  6. I also use pancetta/chopped bacon lardons. (You could use your own cured bacon.) Then a mix of minced meat: pork and beef which not only keeps cost down, but actually tastes better.

    My Italian sister in law says that you should never use more than two carrots and one stick of celery, whatever the quantity of meat and you should cook it long enough for the veg. to sort of melt into the sauce. (I agree with the second part of this advice and, like you, do this in the slow cooker.)

    However, I put far more vegetables in to make it go further and, although it may not be “authentic” it still tastes good.

  7. I always add chopped bacon lardons to my sauce, adds an intensity of flavour – I’ll try the chorizo instEAd next time. This sauce is so versatile, I use it as the base for chilli, cottage pie and, of course, lasagne. If you can make a good bolognese you’ll never go hungry.

  8. I am stingy with meat, I would use the same weight in carrots whizzed up in my stick blender thingy.

    never thought of adding chorizo… that is made from pork though isnt it?

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