Monday, 19 March 2012

Ragu Bolognese

If you asked ten cooks how to make Bolognese sauce you’ll get ten different answers. You’ll find the same basics but everyone has their own individual take!

The apparent bible of authentic Italian cookery the Silver Spoon has the recipe logged and out of the way in a little over a hundred words. It’s just butter, oil, onion, celery, carrot, minced steak, tomato puree, and seasoning.

Simple, understated but it should be quite close to what you’d find in an Italian cuccina. After all it’s been the biggest selling cook book in Italy for over fifty years.

With typical Gallic flare Larousse Gastronomique calls for the addition of sage, rosemary, peeled tomatoes, garlic, and red wine. They both agree that the sauce needs a long slow cook over a low heat...

A rather more stylish, if somewhat complicated, take can be found in the Geometry of Pasta. Minced pork, beef, chicken livers, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, butter, olive oil, pancetta, white wine, milk, chopped tomatoes, and beef or chicken stock all make it into the mix.

It even goes as far as telling us the addition of bay or chilli flakes may be considered heretical but not technically displeasing.  My recipe takes a little bit from all of them but for me it’s exactly what it should be; punchy, rich, and essentially very easy!

Start by getting a decent sized pan on the heat; brown your lardons first in the olive oil then add your finely chopped onion, carrot, chilli flakes, and celery seeds then allow them to soften for a while.  Add the mince bit by bit and brown gently; throw in the tomatoes, puree, red wine, and stock then cook for a couple of hours.

When it’s ready the sauce should be well reduced, dark, and very rich but before you serve with pasta adjust the seasoning and throw in a dash of truffle oil.  The oil adds a wonderful gloss to the finished dish and add a delicious fragrant edge!

Serve with wine and friends round a table and you are done.

Ingredients for lots:
750g Steak Mince
100g of Smoked Pancetta Lardons
Four tablespoons of Olive Oil
Tin of Chopped Toms
A good squidge of Tom Puree
Half a bottle of good Italian Red wine
250ml of good beef stock (a couple of those Knorr beef stockpots will do at a push)
A Small Onion and Carrot
A teaspoon of Celery Seeds (all of the flavour, none of the work)
A good teaspoon of Chilli Flakes
A splash of Truffle Oil
Salt and White Pepper


  1. Ooh, truffle oil. Good idea. Wish I had some.

    A while ago I tested Jamie Oliver's ragu recipe and found it wanting. And, while we're at it, here's the one I use.

  2. I love love love ragu! It is my Sunday lunch of choice and I always make it slightly differently depending on what I have in the fridge. I've tried an amazing wild boar ragu before, that was epic. X x

  3. That's pretty much how I do it. A tip I got from an old Italian mamma was to cook the tomato paste off first, along with the onions and veggies, so it gets an even deeper taste, then carry on as normal.

    I do that now, and it does add a certain something. I also add in smooth chicken liver paté if I'm feeling like a bit of luxury. :)

  4. I had to drop by from Goddess on a Budget after you were recommended on my BBC Radio show! Lovely blog .. really fun read and some fabulous ideas!

  5. Wow thanks for dropping by! I was recommended on a radio show? Who do I need to send some flowers to for that? X

  6. There's nothing I love more than a superb mouth-watering bolognese. Been cooking since I was 12 and this is definitely my favourite dish. Thanks for stirring up the pot of memories (",).