recipe adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
I'm only one quarter Italian so I can get away with making spaghetti sauce in my slow cooker! My mother is a Tuscano and spends her Sundays hovering over a big pot of tomato sauce and a frying pan full of meatballs. I love this authentic method but on a typical day at the Sheridan household, it's not going to happen. That's why I love this recipe! It is perfect for a busy, back to school weekday.
Don't be afraid to cook with wine when serving children. Made properly, foods cooked with alcohol are perfectly safe to serve youngsters. The dish should be cooked long enough, usually several minutes, for the alcohol itself to evaporate, leaving only harmless trace residues and the concentrated flavor of the wine or beverage used. Cooking with wine, beer, sherry, and spirits can greatly enhance the taste of some dishes, acting as a flavor conductor to heighten the taste of all the ingredients.
Prep Ahead Plan: I prep the meatballs and leave them in a bowl (raw) in the fridge until I am ready to use them. If you are really pressed for time, buy a good quality bag of frozen prepared meatballs at your local market. Defrost them and put them in the slow cooker about 30-40 minutes before you want to eat. All of the sauce ingredients can be combined in the slow cooker the night before and kept in the fridge until you are ready to turn it on in the morning!
Slow Cooker Tomato-Wine Sauce
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cups dry red wine
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 t dried basil or 1 T fresh, chopped
1 t dried oregano or 1 T fresh, minced
1/4 t ground allspice
2 bay leaves
3 T fresh parsley, minced
1. Saute onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add wine and bring to a boil 1-2 minutes.* Add to slow cooker.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
*I have a slow cooker where the insert is safe for stovetop cooking. You can skip this step if you don't want to dirty a frying pan and the sauce will still be good and the alcohol will cook off during the 8 hours of cooking time!
1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic and beaten egg. Mix well and form into 12-15 balls. Store, covered, in refrigerator until needed
2. About 30 minutes to an hour before you are about to eat. Add meatballs to sauce. The will cook through in the hot sauce.*
Serve with pasta of your choice!! Yummy!
I have an All Clad slow cooker that has an insert that can be used on the stove. Here is a similar slow cooker with an insert safe for stove-top cooking!