Category Archives: Pasta

Bolognese – B

Spaghetti Bolognese – B

Part of A-Z, Series in Food Weekly – Sunday Times 2013
All chefs had to start some where, mine started with a big bowl of spaghetti with bolognese. I can still taste the sage my mother used. Until this day it is a highlight to cook and to eat, ultimate in simplicity and patience. When I got slightly older and could look down in a pot while stirring, I was given lessons over the phone, step by step. My mothers recipe is slightly different to the one I use today, with the biggest difference being the addition of milk in mine. I want to share this as this is where a lot of things started in my life. My journey my meditation. Ragù, as it is known in Italian, is a meat-based pasta sauce traditionally served with tagliatelle. As with many recipes, it varies according to the region, with some strong interpretations of what it is and what it is not. The classic bolognese ragù is very different to the spaghetti bolognese most of us grew up with. The ingredients are simple – onion, carrots, celery, stock, wine, milk, tomato and pancetta – cooked slowly and served with a fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle or pappardelle. Spaghetti was never used – only outside Italy. Some recipes contain no garlic or herbs. Red wine can be used instead of white wine, or pork and beef mince mixed in some cases I will even add some chicken livers. I like to add fresh herbs at the end. This recipe contains more tomato than traditional versions (just because i like the stuff)last thing spend a little extra to buy a good pasta like de cecco.


  • 60 ml Olive oil or 60g butter
  • 1-2 Large onions chopped
  • 150 g Bacon minced or chopped
  • 2 ea Garlic cloves crushed
  • 150 g Carrots diced small or grated
  • 150 g Celery sticks diced small
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 650 g Beef mince
  • 150 ml Dry white wine
  • 250 ml 1 cup chicken stock
  • 250 ml 1 cup milk
  • 400 g Chopped canned tomatoes
  • 400 g Fresh tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 15 ml 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 30 ml 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 30 ml 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 800 g fresh tagliatelle
  • lots of Freshly grated parmesan to serve


  • Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and fry the onions and bacon until onions are soft. Add garlic and fry for a minute, then add carrot and celery and fry until soft. Add bay leaves, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and brown the mince (this adds flavour, but you can also just add the mince to the vegetables). Return vegetables to pan and bring to a simmer. Add wine and stir to deglaze (remove any bits sticking to the bottom). Add stock and simmer until reduced by . Add milk and reduce by . Add tomatoes and simmer until reduced by . Cover with a lid and continue cooking for 1 hour. The sauce should be thick. Add nutmeg and fresh herbs and season. Cook tagliatelle in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente and drain. Do not rinse as the sauce will not stick as well. Toss the sauce through the pasta and serve with plenty of parmesan.


I add star anise and cloves as an option.
First appeared in Sunday Times food weekly, January 2013

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