Bolognese sauce

My mum makes the world’s best bolognese. But even if I follow her recipe (which is rather haphazard) to the ever-varying letter, it never tastes the same. Rather than feel disappointed each time I attempt it, I’ve come up with my own version, because rain or glorious sunshine, it’s always the right season for a good bolognese.


  • 1/1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 0.5 glass red wine
  • 250g beef mince (replace with turkey or pork mince if desired)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • About 8 fresh cherry or plum tomatoes
  • Tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 square dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
  • Pasta of your choice (I LOVE linguine)/courgetti if you’re that virtuously inclined.
  • Grated parmesan (optional)


  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a pan and put on a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for around four minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and stir to prevent the garlic from burning.
  2. Splash in the balsamic vinegar and then the wine and turn up the heat. When the liquid’s thickened slightly to a runny syrup (which should make it sweet enough without the need to add any sugar), add the mince. Break up the mince and cook until brown. Turn down the heat to a simmer and then stir in the beef stock. Season well.
  3. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Swill the tin clean with some water and add that to the pan, along with the fresh tomatoes, a squirt of tomato puree and the bay leaf.
  4. Finally, melt in the chocolate, turn up the heat again and stir. When bubbling, lower the heat, put a lid on the saucepan and simmer the sauce for around 40 mins, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, the sauce should be thick and deliciously rich.
  5. Meanwhile cook and drain the pasta as per the packet instructions. Drizzle over a little olive oil and rock salt.
  6. Make like the Italians and mix the sauce in with the pasta and serve, preferably in a bit of natural sunlight so you can take the perfect picture…

Now, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to bolognese, I just cant get enough – so I tend to feel somewhat lethargic and a little bloated afterwards. That said, I will continue to eat it until the end of time because it also fills me with joy and the desire to go gallivanting around Italy, ideally in an outfit that includes an elasticated waistband.


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