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Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

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ALSO GOOD WITH grizzled asparagus OR herb salad

I wanted to include both the familiar cream-enriched ragù and this more unusual meat sauce for pasta, because I think there’s a place for each of them in the home cook’s repertoire. The contrasting additions of bright lemon zest and funky quick-sautéed chicken livers just before serving make this sauce company-worthy. Both this sugo and the ragù make excellent weekend slow cooking projects—make a bunch and freeze it for even easier meals later.


  • ½ ounce (14 g) dried porcini mushrooms
  • cups (360 ml) hot water
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound (455 g) lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) red wine
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 (28-ounce/794-g) can crushed tomatoes, or 1 (24-ounce/680-g) jar passata di pomodoro (strained tomatoes)
  • Fresh or dried long pasta
  • 2 large chicken livers (about ounces/100 g total), finely chopped (optional)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley



Put the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with the hot water; set aside to soak.

In a skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute, then add the beef and cook, stirring, until most of the pink is gone. Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits, then scrape the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the carrot, celery, and tomatoes.

Lift the mushrooms from the soaking liquid, agitating them gently to make sure no sand remains lodged in them. Mince the mushrooms and add them to the cooker. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the cooker, discarding any grit in the bottom of the bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.

If you’re using the chicken livers, in a skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. When it shimmers, add the livers and cook, stirring, until cooked through and a little crisp in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape into the sauce in the cooker. Stir in the lemon zest and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve with the pasta.