Spag Bol (aka. All-purpose Beef Ragu)


- 250g lean minced beef
- 4 rashers streaky bacon (unsmoked), chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 or 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 8 tbsp red wine
- about 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
(or 2 tsp dried if you don't have fresh)
- 1 beef stock cube - salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pour yourself a glass of wine and get started! Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over a moderate heat and gently fry the onion, garlic and bacon until the onion is soft and translucent (about 5 mins). Turn the heat right up and add the minced beef. You want the pan hot enough to fry the meat, not stew it. Smashed it up with a wooden spoon until it's all uniform and well combined. When the meat is brown, pour in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, wine and basil.

Crumble in a beef stock cube and add a mug of boiling water (but if you're making a ragu for Lasagne then leave this step out because you'll need it to be thicker). Chuck a lid on the pan and simmer it gently for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and simmer for another 20-25 minutes to get a nice concentrated sauce. Feel free to leave the lid on or add a splash of water if you prefer it a bit more saucy. Serve on top of a mountain if spaghetti and cover in freshly grated parmesan, washed down with the rest of the wine you didn't use for cooking.