Emma’s Ragu

It is pretty bold of me to claim this ragu recipe as my own… I am sure there are thousands out there which pretty much follow the same format. However, I will claim this ownership purely on the fact I make this a few times a month and could cook it blindfolded (this is obviously an exaggeration however happy to put to the test if required).

This is the perfect meal for a slow Sunday, and is a slow cook to match. There is nothing more wonderful than relaxing with a glass of wine, watching something that is super Sunday (thinking Raiders of the Lost Ark here lads), smelling this cooking.

The key to this is high-fat beef mince, slow cooking for a few hours. Of course you can knock this up quickly if you need, but trust me and try this once.

Album to cook to: Ethipiques Vol 4, Mulatu Astatke (Sunday’s are also reserved for jazz…)

Recipe feeds 4

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3 hours


1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
A few sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
50g butter
500g beef mince (the higher the fat content, the better)
125ml red wine
400g tin of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato puree


Melt the butter in a casserole or large saucepan on a low-medium heat, and add in the onion, carrot and celery, as well as the rosemary, bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Mix it to cover it with the butter, and then pop a lid on the pan to allow the veg to steam itself as well as gently caramelise in the butter. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it and give it a stir every now and again. Side note: the smell created by this simple Italian base is probably my favourite smell in the entire world.

After the base has softened, add in the chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes, before tipping in the beef mince and turning up the heat to medium-high. Brown the beef mince (and add a large pinch of salt), using a wooden spatula to mash it into the veggie base so that you avoid large strands of mince… I always think it resembles little worms, which frankly, is not what you want to be thinking of when eating.

Pour in your red wine (and then pour yourself another to drink… this is the opportune moment, don’t waste it!), allowing it to deglaze the pan and cook down for 5 minutes. At this point you might be ready for another glass of wine (too soon?). Add in the plum tomatoes, and get in the tin with a spoon to get as much juice as you can, and then squeeze in the tomato puree. Fill the empty tomato tin with warm water from the tap, and pour it in. Give everything a good mix to combine and bring to the boil.

You might be worrying it doesn’t look tomato-y enough, don’t fear! This is where the sauce really comes in to it’s own… it will literally look after itself. Bring the heat right down low and pop the lid on the pan, and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, occasionally stirring. If at any point it begins to look dry, splash in some water, mix and then wack the lid on straight away. Taste and season as needed… the tomato sauce will have reduced and thickened, with the mince essentially cooking in it’s own fat… absolutely heavenly.

Serve with spaghetti and lots of parmesan (and promise me you will warm any leftovers and put in a sandwich with some cheese… proper naughty, proper yummy).


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