A few killer key ingredients make this slow cooker bolognese amazingly flavorful – and the light carrot noodles add a fresh, naturally grain-free contrast.
There are two parts to this post and I can’t quite decide which is my favorite. The bolognese sauce has a secret ingredient, which came by way of Bon Appetit, but I thought I’d adapt it for the slow cooker, and make it dairy-free while I was at it. It takes some prep, true, but is well worth it. The secret? Okay, I’ll spill right away: a mere 3 ounces of chicken liver that contributes so much depth on top of the dense nutritional punch it packs. The idea in Bon Appetit is courtesy of Chef Mike Easton, who also adds some peppery kick to round out the flavor mix.
But then the carrot pappardelle ‘pasta’ (or, as my housemate suggested, “caroodles”), they’re so simple and easy you won’t even believe it. I love some zucchini noodles as much as the next low-carb/paleo-ish type; I adore my spiralizer and use it often, but you don’t even need special equipment. A regular handheld vegetable peeler is all it takes.
Try these together, or in combination with other components, but do try them!
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 tablespoons cooking fat of your choice (olive oil, rendered bacon fat, etc)
- 3 ounces chicken livers, rinsed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons hot peppers in oil (such as Mama Lil's)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- ⅓ cup red wine
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 large carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and peeled
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- fresh parsley and salt to taste
- In a dry skillet, toast the fennel, red pepper and peppercorns over medium-high for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, add cloves, and grind away. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil of your choice in skillet over medium high. Add chicken livers and cook, stirring and turning frequently, for about 4-6 minutes, until well-browned (don't worry, you'll be deglazing soon). Add onion, peppers, thyme and salt. Saute all together until onion has softened and is starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and the toasted spice mixture and cook for 2 more minutes,
- Stir in tomatoes (with the juice) and then add the wine. Deglaze, getting all the flavorful fond off the bottom. Add beef and pork; I like to break up ground meat as it cooks with a masher-style tool. Stir everything together as the meat browns for 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to your slow cooker. Stir in chicken stock and add bay leaves. Cook on high for 4 hours.
- Remove bay leaves, add red wine vinegar and taste for seasoning, adding salt and fresh black pepper as needed. Finally, get out your immersion blender and blend until smooth, making sure you get all the chicken livers! Keep it warm in the slow cooker while you make the carrot pappardelle.
- Now for the fun part: Using your vegetable peeler, simply peel long, broad ribbons, using some pressure so they're a bit thicker than they would be without. I peel several noodles off of one side, then switch to the other side, and back and forth until there's just a central slab left (I save them to shred for slaw).
- Heat remaining oil in a skillet, and cook shallots over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add your pile of orange ribbons and toss in the oil and shallot until well coated. Cover and cook for about 5-6 minutes, shaking pan and tossing a bit more occasionally, until they are tender but not, I repeat, NOT mushy.
- Transfer pappardelle to plates, top with a generous ladle of bolognese, and sprinkle with parsley and additional red pepper if desired.
Other blogger bologneses:
Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese from Leite’s Culinaria
Roasted Tomato Bolognese from Lauren’s Latest
Lasagna Bolognese Al Forno from Amateur Gourmet
Mushroom Bolognese from The Italian Dish
Vegan Bolognese from Rachel Cooks
— posted by Anne