Slow Cooker Beef Ragu (Bolognaise)

Beef RaguBeef ragu or Bolognaise sauce is one of the most versatile recipes to have up your sleeve when you are cooking for a family. It can be used in many ways and freezes well once cooked.
This is not really a ‘recipe’ – more a how-to. Each time I make this I vary it a little depending on what ingredients I have on hand.

I like quite a runny meat sauce (ragu) to make spaghetti bolognaise, and I prefer to cook it this way rather than in my Thermomix. I do use the Thermo at times, when I am in a hurry or have not had time to prepare this in advance. But this is how I prefer to cook it. It takes very little time to get prepared and then you just set and forget until dinner time. Which is really fantastic on nights when I am walking in the door late. I use about 700g of mince, and get two meals out of this dish. We eat one straight away with spaghetti, for bolognaise. And then I add some extra ingredients and freeze the leftovers for a second meal (which is usually cottage pie).

Start with 700g beef mince, two tins of tomatoes, some tomato paste,  an onion, some garlic and whatever vegetables you would like to include. I like to use carrots, celery and zucchini.
Put the mince into the slow cooker.
Peel and chop vegetables into chunks and add them all to the Thermomix bowl (include the onion and garlic).  Turbo pulse a few times to chop them up. I like them chopped quite fine, but you can leave them chunkier if you prefer. If you don’t have a Thermal cooker just chop by hand, use a food processor or grate.
Tip all the vegetables into the slow cooker with the meat, add the two tins of tomatoes, a large dollop of tomato paste (2 Tbsp) a splash of balsamic vinegar, a tsp of sugar, a generous glug of red wine, salt and pepper to taste and herbs of choice (include a bay leaf if you have one). Use fresh or dried herbs, whatever you have. Remember this is not an exact recipe, add flavours that you enjoy.
Use a wooden spoon to give everything a good mix through.

Set your slow cooker to low and leave it to cook for 7-8 hours. Stir a couple of times during cooking time (if you are home and near the slow cooker!)

Once cooked, remove half the ragu to serve over pasta for spaghetti bolognaise. Leave the remaining half in the slow cooker and stir through one tin of rinsed and drained chick peas, and about half a cup each of frozen peas and frozen corn. Let it sit for 10 minutes (but don’t turn the cooker back on). Remove and store in a freezer friendly container to use as cottage pie filling another day. When you are ready to make pie just defrost the meat filling, place into an oven safe casserole dish, cook and mash some potatoes to put on top, sprinkle a little grated cheese over and heat in a 180 degree oven until the the centre of the pie is piping hot.

Easy peasy! I don’t worry about browning the mince before I put it in the slow cooker. I am all for quick and easy. But feel free to brown it first in a fry pan if you like. This will make quite a runny meat sauce, if you prefer it thicker use just one can of tomatoes instead of two.

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