Beef & Basil Ragu with Linguine

Lockdown 2020

Beef & Basil Ragu with Linguine

It’s a classic. A very simple supper … Beef and Basil Ragu (Bolognese) with linguine. I remember when this was seen as very ‘continental’.

When you make a dish on a regular basis you take it for granted. When I’m training young people in the deli, I constantly have to remind myself — not everyone knows this stuff.

The luxury of lockdown is time to make and put this down on paper.

Far from plain, this take on a ‘spag bol’ is delicious.

Prep time: 20 mins. Cooking time: 1 hour (2 if you have time).

This recipe will feed 4 to 5. I make it in a batch of this size to freeze half or save for another day.


  • 500g Minced Beef
  • 100g streaky bacon
  • 1 large Onion chopped
  • 250g mushrooms (any)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tin of tomatoes any
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • level dessert spoon of demerara sugar
  • 175ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • small bunch of fresh basil
  • beef or vegetable stock (strong… 250ml to one cube or stock pot or a desert spoon of powder)
  • S & P
  • a little oil for frying
  • a little olive oil
  • 150g linguine or spaghetti (enough for 2 people)


  1. Heat a little oil in a pan, add the mince beef and the lardons of bacon. Fry on a medium meat until the mince and lardons start to brown and seal. Stir and agitate to break down the mince.
  2. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms. Continue to cook until the onions are clear and mushrooms soft.
  3. Add the crushed/minced garlic and cook a little more, 30 seconds or so, before adding the tinned tomatoes. If the tomatoes are not chopped just break them down in the pan with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the red wine, Demerara sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Bring to a gentle simmer. The sugar just takes the acidity off the tomatoes and tomatoes are varying.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and the strong stock.
  6. Taste! Taste! Taste! It will seem too thin, at this point. Don’t worry! Just slowly simmer the ragu for about an hour, stirring now and again. It should reduce by about half.
  7. About 15 minutes before you want to eat, bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and a little oil. Put the linguine or spaghetti into the boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Test by fishing out a strand of pasta and tasting it. If it’s ready take the pasta off the heat straight away. If not give it another minute and test again.
  8. Drain the pasta in a colander over the sink and wash the excess starch away with a kettle full of boiling water. Drizzle with a little olive oil or butter and mix it through.
  9. Add the chopped basil to the ragu sauce and serve on top of your pasta.

You could sprinkle grated Parmesan over the top, if you wish.

You could make this in a batch and freeze or chill in the fridge for later in the week. It’s also the same ragu I would use for a lasagna or a cannelloni. (I will put a Béchamel recipe up soon).


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Liz Bowe
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Liz Bowe

Braised Beef & Cheddar Burgers in a Mushroom Sauce

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