Slow Cooker Bolognese

The slow cooker is out again and, honestly, I can’t think of a better recipe for it.  Growing up, Spag Bol was always a quick 20 minute dinner, and that was fine.  As I grew older, however, I learned that the secret ingredient to any stew dish – and particularly Bolognese – is time.  Slow, gentle cooking over a long period of time to really let the flavours develop, the sauce become rich and thick and the meat become juicy and tender.

As with all tomato based sauces, please do not neglect the salt and sugar.  Tomato on its own is tart and bitter – it needs help making it rich and more-ish.  Yes, I add bacon,  Yes, you should too.


  • Beef Mince (about 80g per serving)
  • Bacon (1/3 as much as the beef roughly)
  • Passata – enough to comfortably cover the solids.
  • Onion, Celery and Carrot – roughly equal amounts, finely chopped.
  • Crushed garlic cloves
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine (optional, but recommended)
  • Oil


  1. Add a little oil to a deep pan and gently fry the onion, celery and carrot with a little salt.  The salt will bring out moisture and help them soften.  Keep the lid on the pan so the steam builds, stirring every few minutes until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the beef mince, a few handfuls of roughly chopped basil and garlic and raise the heat slightly, crushing and stirring every now and then, but allowin it to develop a bit of a sear in places.  Sweet, sweet flavour.
  3. When the mince has cooked pour in a glass or so of red wine (or stock) to deglaze the pan.
  4. Add the mixture to the slow cooker and pour in enough passata to cover.  Grate in a little nutmeg and add a few spoonfuls of sugar.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8.


For heavens sake, serve stirred through your pasta.  Why force your poor diners to awkwardly try and combine it on the plate without staining their shirt?  Grate on a little cheese and garnish with a few sprigs of basil.

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