Bolognese sauce

Bolognese sauce

Margaret Fulton Favourites
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

Also called ‘ragù’ or ‘sugo alla Bolognese’, it is said that there are as many recipe versions of this delicious slow-cooked sauce as there are cooks in the Italian city of Bologna. The Bolognese claim that a true ragù cannot be made anywhere else. Perhaps this is so but, if you follow a few rules, the following recipe is very good without taking four hours to cook, as is suggested by some recipes.

Use a deep, heavy-based saucepan and keep the heat as low as possible while the sauce is simmering. Use lean beef, preferably finely chopped chuck steak, rather than mince. Cream is added to soften the sauce, but some cooks prefer adding a little butter.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1kg chuck steak, trimmed and finely chopped
1 cup dry white or red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup cream or a little butter, (optional)
A pinch ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the onions for 3–5 minutes, without colouring. Add the celery, carrot, pancetta and garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Increase the heat to high. Add the steak and cook for 4 minutes, until the colour changes. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Stir in the tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 11⁄2–2 hours.
  3. Remove the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the meat is tender. Stir in the cream or butter, if using, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of pepper.


  • Bolognese sauce is best made the day before to allow the flavours to develop. After cooking, cool quickly and refrigerate in an airtight container.
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