Penne Bolognese

An Italian family favourite. This traditional penne pasta bolognese recipe uses diced chuck steak and veal rump steak for extra depth of flavour and texture.

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I used to wonder why Nonna would spend ages cutting up beef for Bolognese sauce, rather than using minced beef bought from the butcher. The answer is because it tastes so much better. Traditionally this is the way it’s always made.

Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g chuck steak, finely diced
150g veal rump, finely diced
3 tbsp tomato puree
100ml white or red wine
300-500ml water or chicken stock
400g dried penne
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful of freshly grated Parmesan, to serve


Heat the olive oil over a low heat in a heavy-based pan. When hot, add the vegetables and garlic and cook gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, but do not allow to colour.

Add the diced meat and colour slightly for a minute or two.

Add the tomato purée and cook for 4-5 minutes. (This ensures it acts as a thickening agent and does not overpower the meat.)

Add the wine, turn up the heat a little and allow to bubble and reduce. Cover with the water or stock and stir well. Cover with a cartouche (a circle of baking parchment). A good Bolognese should cook for at least 3-4 hours over a very low heat, but check it every hour and give it a stir. If necessary, add a touch of water so it does not dry out. When cooked, it should have formed a lovely thick sauce.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the penne for 10 minutes or according to packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and add to the Bolognese, then season to taste and toss well. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

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