The Standard British Bolognese Sauce is a travesty, a mere shadow of the original, exquisitely rich, almost solid sauce. So here’s my version of the classic Ragu. Oh, and anyone who thinks this word is even slightly trademarkable, get lost back to your silly marketing land where you can hijack words for your own purposes, where everything comes from a jar and nothing’s worth eating.

Like most things in life, all good things come to those who wait. If you think it’s finished before it really is, and serve it before it’s ready, you’ll ruin the treat.

The Ragu relies on that most Italian of holy trinities, the sofrito – finely chopped/grated onion, carrot and celery, fried and sweated until all of their flavour is extracted & concentrated into the oil. Please don’t think you can miss it out and expect the same result.

You could probably substitute Quorn mince for the beef, and vegetable stock for beef stock, if you want to make a vegetarian version of this sauce.


750g lean minced beef

1 bottle of good red wine

4 large 400g cans chopped Italian tomatoes

1 tube tomato puree

5 celery sticks, finely chopped

3 large carrots, grated

2 large onions, finely diced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 beef stock cubes

black pepper


Select a large heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan. Brown the mince by frying in 1 tablespoon of oil with a heavy seasoning of black pepper, then set meat aside. Fry the onion, garlic, celery & carrot in 3 tablespoons of oil, stirring frequently – this is the sofrito. The vegetables should not colour, but will gradually become translucent and indistinguishable. When you have a reduced vegetable mush, add the meat back and combine. Add the tomatoes, continuing to stir the mixture and bring it back to the boil. Add the wine and beef stock cubes, and return to the boil, stirring frequently. Add the tube of tomato puree, combine, and boil the sauce until virtually all the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently to avoid the solids sinking to the bottom and scorching. You really are aiming for an almost dry sauce where most of the liquid is an orangey red oil which coats the pasta and carries much of the flavour.

Serve with a good quality spaghetti cooked al dente and lightly oiled with a peppery extra virgin olive oil, and a generous measure of freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano (the finest Parmesan cheese). Avoid wearing white, or tuck an oversized napkin into your shirt. Buon appetito!