My Spaghetti Bolognese

Like one of my earlier recipes, this is an altered version of a recipe my mum used to use, and it's a firm favourite with my daughters. The main reason for my recording this recipe is for them. This is rather more "meaty" than most Bolognese sauces. This recipe will serve four - at least at my house. I have a few extra ingredients I use when I want a more luxurious version - bacon lardons, brandy and a good cheese. You can make a still very tasty cheaper option without these. To make this for best results, you want to have some time to really develop a depth of flavour in the sauce.


  • 500g minced beef
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 0.5 cm thick rounds
  • 4 teaspoon gravy granules
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • one tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  • 80g bacon lardons (optional)
  • 100g (or more, especially if you are me, or your daughters are stealing it as you cook) cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
  • Spaghetti, or the pasta of your choice. About 300g or more if dry pasta. Depends how hungry you are.
  • Garlic Bread (if you are hungry) (optional)


Dice the two onions, relatively finely, and set aside.

(optional) If you are using the bacon lardons, cook them off in a large saucepan on a high heat for a few minutes.

On a medium to low heat, add the olive oil and the diced onions and cook till soften and slightly translucent. Add the garlic, either finely dicing it and cook for another minute or so. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and mix. In a mixing jug add the gravy granules and the stock and water from the kettle. The amount of water depends on how long you want to let the sauce reduce, but at least 300 ml or so is probably sensible. Add this to the pot. Stir and mix all these ingredients in the pot.

Now, add the mince, breaking it up as you do so. Again, give it a good stir. Bring to a high heat so the sauce can start to reduce. You can add the carrots now, but I tend to wait until I'm about 20 minutes away from completing the sauce so they retain a little bite.

How long should you reduce the sauce - well the longer the better in many ways, and if you have more time, add a bit more water and let the sauce cook out at a much lower heat. You can always add a little water if the sauce gets too thick and you want more time. Don't forget, once the meat is no longer completely raw, taste as you go and add some seasoning as required. Bear in mind, the sauce will become stronger and more intense as it reduces, so give it a bit of time for that to develop. Almost the longer you cook it out, the better.

Keep stirring. I like to use a silicone spatula to move the sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent it sticking.

You will know the sauce is getting ready when you pass your spatual through and you can see the pot bottom briefly before the sauce closes. This is where, in my luxury edition, I like to add a little brandy and mix and cook until the consistency is correct again.

Transfer the sauce to a heatproof bowl, and allow to cool just for a couple of minutes.

Get your pasta on the boil at this point, if it's dried pasta. I tend to wash out the pot I used for the sauce and use it again for the pasta. The sauce will hold heat for quite a while. Put on any garlic bread in the oven now too if you want it.

Cover the sauce in the bowl with grated cheese. I like Coleraine mild cheddar for this purpose, but I appreciate we aren't all lucky enough to have access to that. Use a nice cheese of your choice. Place the bowl under the grill on high heat for just a few minutes while the pasta is boiling. Don't forget to keep an eye on it! When the cheese is nice and bubbly and golden brown, remove the sauce.

Your pasta should be just about ready - dried pasta takes about 11 minutes. Take a spaghetti strand out with tongs and bite through it to see if it's too your taste, and look closely at the tiny circle (if it's there) of uncooked pasta in the core. I like mine still with a bit of a bite.

Set the bowl of cheese covered sauce in the middle of your table with two big serving spoons. Serve the pasta with tongs into bowls for each person.


This sauce keeps well in the fridge or the freezer.

PS. If you are looking for a good Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, I love this one, and its fast and easy to make.

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