Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tuscan Ragu Sauce with Spaghetti in a Crock Pot (Spaghetti con ragù Toscano)

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A Ragu is, basically a tomato sauce, flavored with meat.  The meat is browned slightly, rendering out much of the fat but not all.  This way a portion of the meat juices becomes a part of the sauce.  The ratio of meat to sauce is not high.  There are bits of meat floating throughout the sauce, but it is not meat coated with sauce that you probably have seen at many Americanized versions of Italian restaurants.

Once again, we've talked about this before, meat is a luxury item.  With this recipe, 1 pound of meat plus 1 BIG can of tomatoes makes enough sauce to serve 12 people

This makes a wonderful lunch, a fine Primo (first course, after the Antipasto) course or just a quick snack.

I made spaghetti for the first time for this post!

Making your own fresh pasta is getting to be a habit.  Like making bread at home, it is not always cost effective considering the time investment.  But like making bread, the rewards are there if you value the zen like appeal and the fantastic taste that dried pasta does not have.  It's just fun!

This recipe works very well in a crock pot.  The low setting allows for low and slow cooking of the tomatoes, allowing the natural sugars in the tomatoes to sweeten the sauce naturally (without added sugar).  You can make the sauce fast, but it has a different taste.  The sauce is made in two stages, first 4 hours the tomatoes cook in their own juices (along with the Soffritto). Then the tomatoes are pureed into a sauce.  That's when you add the meat and again allow this to slow cook for another 4 hours.  Making a deep rich sauce flavored with all that meat and a bit of the rendering fat.

 OK, Here's what I did...

Tuscan Ragu Sauce with Spaghetti in a Crock Pot 
(Spaghetti con Ragu Toscano)

  • 1 LARGE (28 Oz) Can Peeled Tomatoes in water (of course you can make this with whole fresh tomatoes, but that's a different recipe)
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion, minced
  • 1 Stalk Celery, minced
  • 1 Medium Carrot, minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped, minced
  • 2 TBS Fresh cut Parsley, chopped and minced
  • 1 Large Pinch Salt
  • Several grinds of a Pepper Mill
  • 1 small can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage
  • 2 TBS Fresh Thyme (save half to use as garnish)
  • Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Break out your large crock pot, set on low.
  2. Add the tomatoes and start them simmering
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat 2 TBS Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the Onions, Celery and Carrots, Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften and change color
  4. Add the Garlic and Parsley and saute for another couple of minutes. This making a fresh Soffritto, if you had some in the fridge, use a cup.
  5. Add the Soffritto to the crock pot, stir to combine, add salt and pepper and close the lid for 4 hours, allowing everything to simmer.
  6. After 4 hours, brown the sausage... but only to take the color out, do not cook until it crusts. You want a bit of the fat to remain inside the meat..
  7. While the meat is browning, use a hand blender (or in batches, use a stand blender or food processor) and puree the tomatoes and Soffritto into a smooth sauce.
  8. Add the tomato paste and again, puree.
  9. Add the Sausage and half of the thyme leaves.
  10. Close the lid and cook, still on low for another 4 hours.
  11. This freezes well, stores in jars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  12. Serve HOT, mix with fresh pasta, garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and thyme leaves.
  13. AND ENJOY!!!

And delicious!  Much richer ... well, meatier spiced taste than my Herbed Tomato Sauce.  A more complex sauce perfect for company.  There is in fact very little hands on work to make the sauce, the crock pot does everything but dice the vegetables.

And worth all the effort!!!

This is old school. Italian Grandmother old country, old school. .


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!


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  1. That looks hearty and filling, Dave. I make mine too meat heavy sometimes, almost like chili instead of a sauce, lol.

  2. This spaghetti recipe looks wonderful.