Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Cacciatore

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According to online definitions: “Cacciatore is usually composed of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and possibly, bell peppers. It is simmered for a long time to bring out the flavors and to allow the meat to become meltingly tender.”  WOW… I always called this cacciatore and, it turns out, that really IS what it Is!  I generally do chicken cacciatore but Italian sausage was on sale so… there you go.

I buy Italian sausage when it’s on sale, plan a meal around it and cook/freeze the remainder for future meals.  Usually the Italian sausage that is on sale is a “rope” so I either: remove it from the casing and brown it, like ground sausage, and divide it up – boil it whole, which helps remove the fat, and cut it into chunks to use in thinss like black beans or soup or Italian Sausage subs – or make little sausage “meatballs” by removing the casing and taking Tablespoon size  amounts of the sausage, rounding them into balls and browning them.  I use these meatballs for things like Etouffee.  That’s what I did this time.  I did all this yesterday – putting a plastic bag of about 2 cups of meatballs in the fridge and freezing the rest for future use.
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So…  This morning I took my ingredients and started tossing them into the slow cooker.
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A large can of diced tomatoes, undrained. I put about 1/2 of the can on the bottom of the slow cooker and then poured in the meatballs.  On top of that I spread about 1/2 of a small can of tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic, about 1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning, and some freshly ground pepper.
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Next the veggies were layered on – 1/2 of a Large sweet onion, 1/2 of a Large red bell pepper, and a small green pepper.  These were cut into medium sized strips so they don’t disintegrate during the cooking process.

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The remaining tomato paste was mixed into the remaining diced tomatoes and layered on then and more herbs were sprinkled on, finishing with a small can of sliced black olives.
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Covered all that with sliced mushrooms.
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A splash of red wine – probably about 1/2 – 3/4 c – I turned the slow cooker on Low and left for work.
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10 hours later – Italian Sausage Cacciatore – ready to serve.  I knew that my Heart wouldn’t be home before 8 p.m., at the earliest, so I turned off the slow cooker and left it covered to stay hot until he came home – which it did.
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This brand is, without a doubt, my favorite of the gluten free pastas… it’s NOT mushy.  Make sure to ignore the package cooking times and check it about 5 minutes prior to when it says and MAKE SURE to rinse the pasta with COLD water – totally makes the texture perfect. You can then rinse it in HOT tap water to re-heat it before serving. Also, some recipes say to use some of the pasta water as a thickener – Don’t ! The water from gluten-free pasta is very gummy and does not have good texture.

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I totally forgot to take a picture of our plates – I was starving and just wanted to eat – but I package up leftovers in lunch-sized servings so grabbing lunch on the way out to work in the morning is easy….   Yum… a hearty and satisfying, comfort-foodie sorta meal.

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