Slow Cooker Bolognese sauce

Slow Cooker Bolognese sauce

500 g (1 lb) lean ground beef, pork or turkey
5 ml (1 tsp) fennel seeds
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 ml (1 tsp) dried oregano
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) pepper
250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
1 x 796 ml (28 oz) can tomatoes
1 x 796 ml (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
250 ml (1 cup) dry red wine
30 ml (2 tbsp) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
pinch sugar
50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh parsley, minced fine

In large heavy skillet, sauté beef over medium-high heat, using a fork to break into pieces, until no pink remains, about 5-7 minutes. Drain excess fat from skillet. Crush fennel seeds – you can use a mortar and pestle or put in a baggie and bash with a rolling pin – and add to skillet along with bacon, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in milk and continue cooking until almost no liquid remains, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape into a 4-6 litre (4-6 quart) slow cooker, along with tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, bay leaf and sugar. Mash whole tomatoes with potato masher or fork until chunky. Stir.

Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours. Vegetables should be tender and sauce slightly thickened. Discard bay leaf, add parsley and serve with hot cooked pasta.

[i]Source: Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 2, 2011

(Adapted from the Canadian Living Slow Cooker Collection)[/i]