{Crock Pot} Marinara Sauce with Italian Sausage


My family communicates primarily through food. While your mom might send a group text to your siblings with a “happy Thursday, love you!”, my mom starts the group text with “wondering whether to do a peanut sauce or a curry with the greens?” or “what’s everyone making tonight?”. These texts then lead to a discussion, pictures included, of course, of what we are all making and our methods. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I could really save a lot of time by posting screen shots of these conversations instead of writing all these silly posts. Food-based family texts are all fine and dandy when the recipient is full, but they’re sheer torture to receive during the day, especially if I’ve been too busy to have breakfast or lunch that day. Sheer. Torture. 

The main torture of late has been my mom’s genius use of the bountiful harvest of tomatoes that her garden produced this year. She’s been working on marinara sauce recipes and sending me pictures like this: 


After taunting me with photo after photo of magnificent marinara sauces for weeks, my mother finally made a batch for Husband’s birthday so I could eat this famous sauce in real life. This did nothing to quell my craving. 


I decided to make my own version of her sauce, which is studded with olives, fresh herbs, and Italian sausage. My variety adds a couple of key ingredients to happiness: bacon and red wine. I also made mine in the crock pot, because slow-cooking sauce like this for eight hours releases magic flavor like nothing else. And because I’m a working lady and coming home to a decadent dinner is well worth the preparation in the morning, in my opinion. 


My marinara sauce recipe requires about half an hour of active time and will be ready to enjoy after 8 hours in the crock pot. The color of the sauce is a much deeper red than traditional bolognese or marinara. Excuse the horrible picture, but you need to see the color here: 


You can serve this with pasta if you like, but I have enjoyed mine plain, with a few pieces of toasted baguette. I also served the marinara with creamy rosemary and Asiago polenta – recipe posted here

Marinara Sauce with Italian Sausage
Yields 6-8 servings

You will need:
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon (not maple)
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I recommend Chianti)
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, loosely torn
  • 10-12 green olives, chopped
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf

Method:
  • Add olive oil, garlic, onion, Italian sausage, and sliced bacon to a large skillet. Set skillet to medium heat and cook until bacon and Italian sausage are browned (this took me about 20 minutes). Break up sausage into chunks as needed during cooking to keep the meat bite-sized. 
  • When the meats are cooked, transfer to a crock pot / slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. 
  • Set heat to low and cook for 8 hours. Remove bay leaf prior to serving.   
  • Serve hot, over pasta or soft rosemary and Asiago polenta
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