All day bolognese


In my kitchen, Sundays are for big cooking projects and they don’t get much bigger than this. All in all this bolognese will take around 6 hours from start to finish so make sure you start early or you’ll be eating in the middle of the night with an angry, hungry wife (not that this has ever happened to me of course).

Although this sauce will reduce down to a perfect bolognese, there will be a lot of liquid in the pan at various points so make sure you use one that can hold at least 4 litres.

Serves 6

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g butter
2 small brown onions, finely diced
2 medium carrots, grated
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
500g beef mince (10-15% fat)
250g pork mince
500ml whole milk
200ml dry white wine
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
500ml light chicken stock

Heat the olive oil and half of the butter over low-medium heat in a large pan. Add in the onions and carrots and cook for around 10 minutes, until the onion has turned translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for a further few minutes. Be sure not to let the garlic take on any colour.

Turn up the heat to medium, crumble the beef and pork into the pan along with a large pinch of salt and black pepper and cook until neither meat has any raw colour left in it.

Pour in the milk and then reduce it down until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated. This will take 20-30 minutes. Next pour in the wine and reduce this down too until almost totally gone. This will take 15-20 minutes.

Add in your tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. You want a gentle simmer with a few bubbles rising to the surface. Let this reduce slowly for around 2-3 hours. You’ll know when you’ve gone far enough when there is no tomato juice left apart from what is clinging to the meat.

At this point you can pour in your chicken stock. Again, bring this to a boil and then simmer on a low heat like you did with the tomatoes. Allow this to reduce for around 2 hours until you are left with a loose, creamy sauce.

Stir in 50g butter, check for seasoning and serve stirred in to a robust pasta like tagliatelle or, my personal favourite, pappardelle. Don’t forget to grate over some parmesan or grana padano cheese to complete this beautiful dish.


Don’t be fooled by all the liquid in this dish, the meat can still stick and burn to the bottom of your pan. Make sure you keep an eye on it and stir at least every 15 minutes to keep everything moving. Pay especially close attention when the liquid level is low.

This recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s bolognese sauce from her excellent book, The Essentials of Italian Cooking. While similar, Marcella’s is slightly more austere and doesn’t call for chicken stock, butter or garlic in the dish.

Image via Flickr