Food 2008 – Recipes (Ragu alla Bolognese)

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26th Jul, 2008 – Recipes (Ragu alla Bolognese)

I was going to do all sorts today but got sidetracked by friends asking if they could drop by… So we fed them lunch. Spaghetti Bolognese, with the best ragu alla bolognese I’ve ever managed to make. I used the recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, the very wonderful “Made in Italy” which I really must use more often. I’m going to recreate it here…

Ragu alla Bolognese


  • 2kg minced beef, preferably neck
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary and sprig of fresh thyme, tied together to make a bouquet garni
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 litre passata
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

Serves: 8


  1. Take the meat out of the fridge, lay it on a tray and let it come to room temperature, so that it will sear rather than “boil” when you put it in the pan.
  2. Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed pan, then add the vegetables, herbs and garlic cloves. Sweat the vegetables over a high heat for around 8 minutes, stirring them to keep them from colouring.
  3. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the pan, making sure it is contact with the base of the pan.
  4. Leave it for 5-6 minutes to make sure it seals properly. DO NOT stir it around during this time. Add more oil if necessary to keep the vegetables from burning.
  5. Stir the meat and vegetables around after this, for about 10-12 minutes until the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the bottle of wine to the meat and leave it to simmer until it has reduced down to almost nothing.
  7. Add the tomato paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
  8. Add the passata and 1 litre of water. Bring the sauce to the boil, then allow it to simmer for around one and a half hours. Add water if necessary, but at the end you should have a sauce that is rich, thick and incredibly tasty.
  9. For best results, use the ragu the following day, heating it up again before use.

Notes: I think unless you are incredibly greedy/a marathon runner in training, this actually makes 16 portions, not 8.

DO NOT be tempted to add the salt and pepper to the meat until just before you throw it into the pan. Salt causes meat to start to break down, and it will spoil the taste and texture if you leave it sitting around with salt all over it.

If you don’t have fresh thyme/sage, dried will do.

Adding more garlic is good. I used around 10-12 cloves, not just 2.

This fed a couple of picky eaters, with the addition of 100g dry weight pasta each.

I don’t suppose you’ll be surprised to know it freezes well…

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