Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then the sausage; cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the slow cooker. Pour off and discard all the oil in the skillet and return it to the heat. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until brick red, about 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the mixture over the sausage.
Add the beef shins, crushed tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, garlic, Italian herbs, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to taste. Set the slow cooker on LOW for 8 hours, cover, and cook until the beef is very tender.
When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage and beef to a cutting board, slice into serving portions, and arrange on a serving platter. Drain the pasta and toss with some of the sauce; transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve the meat and pasta separately with sauce on the side. Freeze any leftover sauce for up to 3 months.
Copyright Food Network Kitchens Making it Easy, Meredith, 2004