This recipe is a world away from the kind of ‘spag bol’ I used to make in my student days – a quickly cooked sauce using just minced beef as the meat base which always seem to end up very watery. A good ragu on the other hand is a rich sauce, full of flavour built up from long, slow cooking and using a mix of minced meats.

The starting point for this ragu is a recipe from ‘Italian Cooking’ by Robin Howe, published in 1979 and part of a St Michael (the old Marks and Spencer brand) series of cookery books. The recipe called for bacon, pork and beef, chicken livers and sausage meat, but I have just used minced beef, minced pork and sausage meat. The other change was that I added full fat milk, as this was listed on other ragu recipes I looked at.

I served this with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti. Any pasta will do of course but tagliatelle is more authentic.

I made a big batch to freeze (and those portions were very welcome during the cold winter months) but these quantities make enough for about six people.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g each minced beef and pork
  • 2-3 good quality sausages, skinned and meat crumbled
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 tablespoons full fat milk
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Tagliatelle


  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan and add the finely chopped vegetables and cook over a low heat until soft.
  2. Add the pork and beef mince and sausage meat and cook until the mixture begins to turn brown.
  3. Add the wine and continue to cook until almost evaporated.
  4. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and stir well.
  5. Simmer gently for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, adding the milk to prevent it drying out.
  6. Cook the tagliatelle. Add a ladleful of the pasta water to the ragu and cook the ragu for another five minutes.
  7. Mix the sauce and tagliatelle before serving.

Buon appetito!

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