Slow Cooked Sunday Pasta Sauce

It is with a heavy heart that I am posting about a terrible incident that happened here in central Italy the night before last. An earthquake caused catastrophic damage in some small towns in southern Umbria, and just over the border in Lazio, and Le Marche. Sadly, the little town of Amatrice where Amatriciana pasta was first created no longer exists.

As of today, the death count has reached 250, but they expect it to rise as they begin to dig through the rubble. We were very lucky that we incurred no damage, but we were awakened in the night by the bed shaking and our little pup barking. We are still feeling aftershocks from time to time, and I am told that they may last for days.

I want to thank everyone who has written to see if we were okay. It is amazing how connections online bring people together and I truly appreciate your concern!!!!  My husband and I go to our local trattoria at least once every two weeks to enjoy their version of pasta Amatriciana, and we plan to go tonight to honor those experiencing the devestation left by this latest earthquake.

There is a call for restaurants throughout Italy and now across North America to donate a little from each dish of Pasta Amatriciana sold and I think that is a wonderful idea that would provide the help these folks in Amatrice and surrounding areas desperately need at this time.

If you can help, please do as the folks in this region need everyone’s help at this time!

Here is the information for donations:
CAUSALE: “Terremoto Centro Italia” (Red Cross)
EMAIL: [email protected]
TELEFONO: 011-39-06.5510
IBAN: IT40F0623003204000030631681

You can also donate directly to the Red Cross through PayPal

You can find eight other ways to donate Here!

I know I am biased, but I love everything about Italian cuisine. I have found lately that I have been going back to traditional recipes that I made over forty years ago when I first started my Italian adventure.

I remember walking into my Mother-In-Law’s house on Sundays when she would have a huge pot of pasta sauce simmering on the stove, and there was nothing like that “Sunday sauce” aroma wafting throughout the house. Unfortunately, we are rarely together with family on Sundays, but when I start to miss my family, I know a big pot of sauce will help.

When many folks think of Italian pasta sauce, they think of a tomato sauce simmering away on the stove for hours, and this is exactly that type of sauce. This sauce uses three types of meat, beef, sausage, and pork ribs, although you could use other cuts of meat if you prefer.

I also pulled out my crockpot for this recipe because it is August, and I didn’t want to heat the house by using the stove, but this sauce can also be simmered on the stove if you’d prefer cooking it that way. I like to brown my meat well before adding it to the sauce as I find it gives the sauce more depth of flavor.

This recipe will make enough sauce to serve eight to ten people. Once it was fully cooked, I divided it up and froze it for the future. Just about any pasta will work with this sauce from fresh tagliatelli to a dried short pasta like rigatoni. I was feeling adventurous the day I made my sauce and threw together a batch of Sicilian Busiate pasta which is made with just semolina flour and water.

This sauce was great on my artisan pasta, and I also plan to use some of the leftover sauce to make a lasagna later this week. This sauce is also hearty enough for the pasta to be the main course of your meal, just add a nice mixed salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread. To make this sauce in the oven, just place the ingredients into a large Dutch oven after browning, and cook in a 300 degree F. preheated oven for three to four hours.


Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele  

Slow Cooked Sunday Pasta Sauce

Slow Cooked Sunday Pasta Sauce

Yield: Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

A traditional, meaty Italian pasta sauce prepared in the slow cooker.


  • 2 Pounds Pork Ribs Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 Pound Beef Steak Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 Pound Sausage, Removed From Casings
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Medium Carrots, Peeled & Finely Chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 2 (28 Ounce ) Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 (4 Ounce) Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes


  • In a large skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat, and brown the ribs and beef well on all sides.
  • Place the browned meat into the slow cooker.
  • Cook the sausage meat over medium heat until no longer pink, then add to the slow cooker.
  • Add the rest of the oil, and cook the onion, carrots, and celery over medium heat, stirring often, until tender and lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add the red wine, and turn the heat up to high and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated.
  • Scoop the vegetables from the pot and add them to the slow cooker.
  • Pour the tomatoes into the slow cooker.
  • Scoop the paste from the can and add to the tomatoes along with the water, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.
  • Stir the mixture, then set the slow cooker to low, and cook for eight hours.
  • Scoop the beef and pork from the slow cooker and let sit until cool enough to handle.
  • Shred the meat with two forks, and discard any bones and fat.
  • Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir well.
  • Serve sauce on desired pasta of choice, cooked “al dente”.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 675Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 741mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 36g

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. I just want to say how upsetting to see such a lovely part of Italy has been subjected to such a natural disaster and the loss of so many lives. I live in Istanbul (English girl) and live with the same threat of possible and future earthquakes. So l have some understanding what the people are going through now. So very sad.

    I am however relieved to here you and your family are safe. Very happy your OK.

  2. I was heartbroken to here of the earthquake in Italy. I went to an excellent Italian restaurant
    today and ordered pasta Amatriciana after being told the proceeds of that dish would go to help the earthquake victims. I had no idea other restaurants were raising funds in the same way.

    This is a fantastic idea!!! We all have to eat, so pick up your fork and join in to help. Also thanks to you, Deborah, for providing details of many other ways to donate to the quake victims.


  3. Glad to hear you are safe. It is nice for you to post opportunities for assisting the area.

    Is the slow cooker lid left ajar, or perhaps not used at all?

    I’ve always wanted to make sauce like this and your recipe is just what I hoped to find. Thank you.

  4. Glad you and your family are ok!! I was so sad to hear of the devastation and destruction of the ancient villages. Thank you for the update and again I am so glad you are all ok.

  5. I am also so glad to hear of your safety. I will pray for all those affected by this horrible earthquake. This recipe reminds me of the sauce my mom made on many a Sunday. My Mom and her family come from Scandale, Calabria many years ago. I have made many or your fantastic recipe’s and will continue. I will be making a donation.

    1. Marcelle, I posted this information in the header. “To make this sauce in the oven, just place the ingredients into a large Dutch oven after browning, and cook in a 300 degree F. preheated oven for three to four hours.”

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