Faced with a leftover hunk of beef last night to stretch between two grown women with fairly healthy appetites, I started making bolognese, changed my mind and wanted bourgignon, and changed it back again halfway through. This is my first dinner cooked for Someone Very Special (who doesn’t like white chocolate, so Headrush Spaghetti was out, and who cooked for me the evening before, hence the leftover beef!)
Cue one mild flap about what to do and subsequent messing about with it at every stage. The result, however, is a chunky, obscenely rich, heady, bloody delicious big butch dinner that I’ve christened Bolognon, in honour of its roots. And god, it’s good. And she thought so too… 😉


Ingredients (served two adults, with a big bowl of leftovers):

2 onions (told you, I’m stretching this one out)
2 fat cloves of garlic, or three or four inferior ones
1 carrot
2 tbsp oil or a knob of butter
250g beef
150g bacon – smoked and streaky is good!
100ml milk
400g chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine,
4 tbsp tomato purée dissolved in 400ml chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped woody herbs – I used a mix of thyme and rosemary
Huge handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsp double cream (or 1 rounded tbsp natural yoghurt with 2 tsp sugar)

Finely slice the onions and chop the garlic, and grate the carrot, and toss into a large sauté pan or heavy bottomed casserole dish with the oil or butter. Sauté on a low heat for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, finely slice the beef and chop the bacon, and add to the pan. Turn up the heat to seal the meat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the milk and stir well – it will turn brown from the meat juices and softened onions – don’t panic! Pour over the tomatoes, purée, wine and stock, toss in the chopped herbs, and stir well. Crank the heat right up to bring to the boil.

Transfer either to a slow cooker on a low heat, a lidded casserole dish in the oven at 140C, or cover the sauté pan with foil/a plate/a lid on a very low heat. Cook for one hour for ‘soft enough’ beef – as I’m going all out to impress, I cooked mine for four, for meltingly soft beef and thick, rich sauce. (For a cheaper version, bring it to a furious boil, cover tightly, and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for an hour, bring to the boil again, and repeat. The covering will retain heat and continue to cook it, without needing a constant supply of gas or electricity.)

Stir through the cream or yoghurt-and-sugar before serving, and serve atop a heap of spaghetti for an attempt at an elegant dining experience, or with a chunky fat pasta to complement the big tender beef and thick, rich sauce…

Cheese optional. As we’re going for full on punchy knock-your-socks-off delicious here, I tossed chunks of it on by the handful, and a good grind of pepper to finish up.

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



  1. This looks really scrummy. Think I might buy a little roasting joint just to make it. Don’t publish this in your Guardian article though for the love of God – the middle classes would never recover from the resulting authenticity-related screaming.

  2. From the choice of adjectives you described this dish with – sold as a dish to cook for somebody you lurve (or lust after). I have a sack of beef short ribs in my fridge so will be adapting your recipe for them. So glad to hear happiness in your posts too.

  3. Looks and sounds delicious 🙂

    Have you tried a pressure cooker? Brilliant for pot roasts, stews, and pulses. Cooks in a much shorter time and, once it’s sealed, you can turn down the heat so you do save a lot of energy.

  4. sounds great, maybe even on a bed of buttery mash? – and I love the idea above about short ribs. I had NEVER heard of this cut of meat before last year when I was in a – rather posh- farm shop and they were the cheapest thing on the meat counter by far – cheaper than stewing steak or even minced steak. Excellent value loads of meat on them and good brothy bones for good measure. No-one I asked had heard of this cut – is it a regional cut? Certainly never heard of it in the north of England nor Hampshire nor Norfolk where we now live. Suddenly they are in the newspaper recipe section and I’ve seen it in one or two magazines.

  5. Looks lush! I love using larger pieces of beef in bolognese and chilli. I mince celery as well as carrot, and add to beef based “stew” dishes it makes the sauce thicker and stretches out the meal more. So happy to hear you have a someone special in your life 🙂 x

    • It served 4 in our house, with a couple of handfuls of shredded cabbage chucked in too. Served with rice. 2 adults 2 teenagers.

  6. Love inspires one to higher things. New recipes from leftovers often give unexpected excellent results. Specially leftovers from the oven.
    I am happy that you’re happy.

  7. That sounds amazing. It’s the lovechild of two of my favourite sauces ❤ And I'm a sucker for anything with bacon.

  8. Try slow cooking in a duvet to save fuel. Line a plastic crate (or similar) with a non-feather duvet. Bring the casserole to the boil and snuggle it, tightly covered, in the folds, wrapping the duvet all round. You’ll find it’s still hot several hours later. A modern version of the gearbox, and I stack a couple of casseroles together when I’m cooking for the freezer.

  9. Ooh! Leftovers! I know they say you shouldn’t have these :love food hate waste etc. But I bet that bowl in the fridge was delicious the next day! Those days I haven’t any tiny bowls from the fridge to approximate a thrown together lunch are sad ones : Boo! Sandwich!

    • Nothing wrong with leftovers as long as you don’t through them away. If I buy a chicken for Sunday lunch I make sure there’s enough for leftover meals – often better 🙂

  10. It was lovely! Found that there was a high sauce to meat ratio, but this was probably because I cooked it in a slow cooker and liquid doesn’t reduce in them. If you’re using one I’d probably reduce the stock by 100ml (or up the meat I suppose). I chucked in a couple of handfuls of shredded cabbage to fill out the sauce for last half hour of cooking and it did 4 of us easily, with rice. Yummy!

  11. Mmmmmmmmm. Just made this for the family. We had ours with sweet potato mash, mange tout and baby corn. Enjoyed by all. X

  12. I made this for the first time this evening using up some left over shoulder of lamb and diced beef and it was delicious. The lamb made it extra-rich!

  13. Oh my oh yum.
    I made this last night for tea as a change from spag bol as my daughter struggles eating anything minced. I had some minute steak to use up which was tough and when i started coooking it all looked a bit grim but it came together and everyone enjoyed eating it. I was not a happy bunny that there were no leftovers for my lunch today except for a table spoon portion. So tomorrow that is going in a toasted sandwich. 🙂

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