The personal stories and adventures of a nerdy food lover.

Meet my friend the Slow Cooker

I’ve had this blog post on the go for a few weeks now, but because such awesome sweet recipes kept popping up and I felt they needed to be shared post-haste, this recipe was put on the back burner. OK, so back to my obsession with slow cooking. Before I bought my slow cooker (I do believe they are sometimes called crock pots), I did my slow cooking on the stove. I’d chuck my large stock pot on the stove top, turn the heat on low, and let things cook over a low flame for hours. I’d get great results and a wonderful meal at the end, but I couldn’t leave the house for the duration of cooking time. This also goes with slow cooking using the oven. The idea of leaving the house whilst the oven is on freaks me out. As much as I love food, life does go on and I have things I need to achieve! That’s when I decided to get myself a slow cooker. At the time I decided to buy one, Target was having a sale on kitchen stuff so I wandered down to my closest store to have a squiz. When I got down there, the planets seemed to have aligned in my favour because I managed to find a slow cooker that was on sale. In fact, it was 50% off the normal price! So, I quickly lugged it to the front counter to pay for it, and the rest was history. Every winter, the slow cooker is my best friend. All you need to do is prepare your ingredients, chuck it all in the slow cooker, turn it on and go about your day with not a care in the World. One of my favourite dishes to make with my slow cooker is chunky meaty pasta sauce like a ragu. The chunks of meat just fall apart and melt in your mouth, and it’s guaranteed that you will have leftovers to freeze for later (always a good thing for a Uni bum). The slow cooker is a definite ‘must buy’ kitchen appliance for winter cooking! The ragu recipe I’m going to share with you today can serve 6.

Slow cooker beef ragu with penne
½ cup (75g) plain flour
1.2kg gravy beef, trimmed, cut into 4cm pieces
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
200g button mushrooms, quartered
1 mini bottle of red wine (I used a 187ml bottle of Cabernet)
700g bottle passata
2½ cups (625ml) beef stock
2 tsp dried rosemary
375g dried penne pasta
Finely grated parmesan, to serve

Place flour on a plate. Toss beef in the flour to coat in batches. Shake off excess flour. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, turning, in 2 batches for 10 minutes or until brown on all sides. Chuck the cooked beef into the slow cooker.

Toss beef in flourBrown beef

Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot and onion. Stir for 2 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Add mushrooms, and stir for a minute or until just soft. Pour in the wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to loosen the crusty bits that have cooked onto the base of the frying pan (this is caramelised flavour from the beef and veggies). Add everything from the frying pan into the slow cooker.

Cook veggies Add red wine

Stir in the passata, stock and rosemary. Cook, covered, on high for 4 hours or until the beef is tender, then take the lid off and cook for a further 30 minutes. In the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions. To serve, spoon the ragu over the penne and sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top. Buon appetito!

Cook in slow cooker on high Dinner is served

Note: I’ve only made minor amendments to the original recipe. If you would like to see the original recipe, click here. This ragu is SENSATIONAL the next day. The flavours are intensified when you slow cook, but they are intensified even further when left overnight. YUMMO!

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21 thoughts on “Meet my friend the Slow Cooker

  1. recipe looks great. I understand starting one recipe to blog about and getting distracted with another recipe.

    • Thank you 🙂 I have a list of recipes that I want to try and I usually have them in the order that I want to try them, but that doesn’t always go to plan…. It’s hard because there’s so many recipes that I want to try!

  2. This looks like great comfort food. Yum.

  3. YUM!! I love using my slow cooker in winter, too. Mine was a gift from some rellies, and I don’t know what I did without it.

  4. Is your slow cooker square-ish?

    I just inherited an unwanted slow cooker from my parents and we’ve got corned beef cooking right now. I started cooking too late in the afternoon though and now we’re trying to distract ourselves with a bottle of wine until dinner is ready. Still, I can think of worse ways to spend a cold night than at home with a bottle of wine and a slow cooker slowly cooking our dinner.

    • My slower cooker is rectangle-ish. It’s a 6.5L, so it’s a little bigger than the standard one. I can also think of worse ways to spend a cold night too…hope dinner went well 😀

  5. This looks delicious! What kind of crockpot did you get? Mine is awful because even keep warm runs too hot. I need a new one so I can feel the slow cooker love again!

    • Thanks Andi! I bought a Ronson. It’s a 6.5L, so it’s a bit bigger than a normal sized one. It only has 3 dial settings, low, high and auto. I have no idea what temperature these settings are! I just trust that whatever setting I choose that it’s appropriate for what I’m cooking – blind faith I guess you call it. I’ve never had an issue with it though 🙂

  6. I bet this is a great ragù indeed! You may be able to intensify the flavors even more by browning the vegetables and mushrooms a bit more before adding the wine.
    Do you know at what temperature your slow cooker operates?

    • To be honest, I have no idea what temperature my slow cooker operates at. I’m sure the manual would tell me. All I know is that there is a high and low setting. I can only guess what that means….

      • It could be two different power settings or two different thermostat settings. I assume it is the latter, which produces more consistent results.

  7. Looks wonderful – it’s raining and cold here in Massuchusetts (USA), I just might go out and get the ingredients for this ! Either way – this is definitely getting made soon! (I still have my original Crock Pot from 40 years ago!!)

    • WOW Cecile! That’s amazing that you still have your crock pot after that time! So many things are made so that they break exactly when the warranty period is up these days. Things aren’t made like they used to, huh?

      • You’re right. Things were made to last “way back when”. My Crockpot looks like new forty years later….. I wish I could say the same thing about myself !!

  8. I like your friend!!!!

  9. I’d be tempted to bring it to work. Set it up in the afternoon before leaving and then then next day lunch is ready 🙂

  10. Pingback: The Cooking Chook does gnocchi – Eeeeeek! | thecookingchook

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