Bolognese Sauce

This has developed from a combination of recipes in the Encyclopædia of European Cookery and the Marshall Cavendish Handbook of Good Cooking . It is the basis for Spaghetti Bolognese (of course) and for Lasagne Bolognese. I always make twice this quantity ‘cos it’s a great freezer standby.


serves: 4
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 3 hrs


  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 4 oz green streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb minced beef
  • 4 oz chicken livers, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 fl oz dry white wine
  • 4 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 14 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan large enough to take all the ingredients and in it, cook the bacon pieces until lightly browned. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery and fry until tender and just beginning to colour. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add the minced beef and, stirring to break up the lumps, brown it together with the bacon and vegetables. Once the beef is browned, add the chicken livers and cook for a further 2 or 3 mins just to set them. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil to drive off the alcohol. Whiz the tomatoes in a food processor, together with their juice, and stir this into the pan. Add the marjoram and stir again. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer very gently for about 1 hour.

Add the mushrooms and stir thoroughly to combine. Cover and continue simmering gently for about another hour.

Now it should be tasting like a bolognese. Season to taste with salt (careful because of the bacon) and freshly ground black pepper, and stir well. Simmer for another hour. If the sauce seems too loose, simmer it uncovered to reduce the liquid. If too thick, add a little water to thin it and simmer it covered.

Serve over spaghetti or make into Lasagne Bolognese.

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