RECIPE: Crock Pot Celebration Weekend with RED GOLD TOMATOES! / Slow Cooker Sunday Meaty Pasta Sauce

#RGRrecipes #SlowCooker

Ironically, something funny happened last night around the art of slow cooking. My young Jr. Art Director at work told us that her boyfriend announced he was serving a pot roast for dinner in a crock pot. He told her at 5:30 p.m. Guess when he put in the meat in the crock pot? 5:30 p.m.

I warned her to eat some snacks, because it was going to be at least 11 p.m for dinner to be ready-if he cooked it on high.

So, don't make that mistake! Rule #1 about slow cooking, it has SLOW in the name. You need time to have the magic happen.

The art of slow cooking in a crock pot is the savior of many busy families. It's fix it in the morning and forget about it until you get home! What's also nice about it is that you can use cheaper, tougher cuts of meat saving you money. Tough meats get fork tender in a slow cooker. Usually recipes made in a crock pot are the epitome of comfort food. This sauce I am going to share with you is the perfect Sunday comfort dinner. It was adapted from The Best Slow and Easy Recipes from Cook's Illustrated-a perfect edition to your cookbook library.

I grew up having "Sunday gravy". Mom would have it simmering right before we left for church. When we got back, the house smelled delicious. We could sneak some ladles of it on some crusty Italian bread for lunch-after we took off our Sunday dresses. Then dinner was always early, as all typical Italian families, usually around 2:30. Mom would have the sauce spooned over pasta, and serve the meat in a bowl separately. It was always followed by nuts or fruit. This crock pot version reminds me of our family's Sunday sauce recipe, but different. For instance the meat mix is a little different, and you shred the meat once it's tender and put it back in at the end. You also add the basil at the end, to brighten the hearty, earthy sauce. I used Red Gold tomatoes in this recipe, they are a great quality canned tomato. They sent me some cans to play with in celebration of crock pot season this month. I like using some of their flavored diced tomatoes. Their garlic and olive oil diced tomatoes played nicely in this sauce.

Also, you'll notice I am using turkey Italian sausage. This was a big switch. I wasn't sure how poultry would mix with the beef and pork. But I really hate sausage, and I thought switching to turkey would also cut down on the fat. So I gambled, and I have to say it turned out perfect! Now don't tell my mom, she would be horrified I used turkey in a Sunday gravy-let alone mixed proteins that drastically. If you want to stick to regular Italian sausage, be my guest. Just try and skim the fat off as the sauce cooks.

So, Sunday is tomorrow, my friends. And well, it's chilly where I am! Snow flurries were spotted in the city, so I say get to the store for that flank steak and some Red Gold tomatoes and plan for a traditional Italian feast tomorrow! Abondanza!

Slow Cooker Sunday Meaty Pasta Sauce


2 tablespoons of olive oil 
1.22 pounds of Italian turkey sausage (5 links)
1/2-3/4 lb. hot Italian turkey sausage (3 links)
2 medium onions minced 
16 ounce can of Red Gold tomato paste
12 medium garlic cloves, pressed 
2 teaspoons of dried parsley 
half a teaspoon of salt 
1/2 cup of beef broth 
3/4 to 1 cup of red wine 
2 15.5 ounce cans of Red Gold diced tomatoes, drained 
2 15.5 ounce cans of Red Gold tomato sauce 
1 1/2 lbs. of bone in country style pork ribs 
1 1/2 lbs. of flank steak 
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves 


Heat the oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat and brown the sausage. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure the sausages are nice and brown. Let drain on paper towel on a plate. Leave the drippings in the skillet. Heat drippings over medium heat and add the onions, tomato paste, pressed garlic, parsley and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook stirring often until the onions are softened and beginning to brown. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes and will be at thick paste. 

Stir in the beef broth and the wine, scraping up all the brown bits from the sausage. Heat until simmer and then transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. 

Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce until evenly combined in the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on high. Season the ribs and the flank steak with salt and pepper.

Nestle them into the slow cooker in the sauce. Add the browned sausage. Cover and cook either on low or high until the meat is tender -9 to 10 hours on low 5 to 6 hours on high. Skim the fat off as the sauce cooks.

When ready and flank steak is fork tender, transfer the sausages, ribs and flank steak to a platter and cool slightly. Let the cooking liquid settle for five minutes and then bring the cooking liquid back into the slow cooker. On a cutting board, shred the flank steak and ribs and bring the shredded meat back into the slow cooker. Use a fork and knife to do this, and discard bones and fat  as you go. Slice sausages in half crosswise and stir them into the sauce too.

Add the chopped basil to the sauce and adjust seasoning. Serve over pasta with a nice helping of shredded grated Parmesan cheese. Note, you can also serve the sausage separately on a platter rather than have it cut up in the sauce. My family preferred that approach.

Are you inspired to do more with your slow cooker this week? Here are a couple more recipes from me to you!



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