Spicepaw’s Spag Bol

meat sauce over cooked pasta garnished with cheese and fresh basil


Spaghetti Bolognese, aka spag bol, is not just pasta with meat sauce but is actually the ultimate comfort food in the UK.

For a Brit, a plate of spag bol tastes like childhood and a mother’s love and the comfort of coming in from the cold on a rainy day to sit in a big comfy chair by the fire with a cup of tea.

No longer called by its full name but instead given the moniker, ‘spag bol’, this dish has been elevated to almost God-like status in the UK.  If you need proof of the fervor dedicated to this dish just Google ‘Spag Bol Britain’ and see what comes up.

In a nation seemingly so reserved, you’d be surprised at the outrage over this dish.  I know because I have experienced it myself in my own household.

‘No white wine!’,
‘More tomato and onion’,
‘Less garlic!’,
‘Why are you putting cream in that?!’.

It took me years and many attempts to work this recipe up to British standards of ‘spag bol’ perfection.  Now, I am happy to report that this is the version that gets a thumbs up from all members of the family.  Loved both by my husband and our daughter, this is the winning recipe.


bacon frying in olive oil
Cook the bacon in olive oil. You can use guanciale, pancetta or lardons for a richer and smokier flavor. However, here in Malaysia, those things are hard to come by so use whatever is available.
diced vegetables cooking in a pan
Add garlic, celery, onion and carrot
minced beef and diced vegetables cooking in a pan
Add the minced beef and chopped herbs
minced beef and diced vegetables cooking in red wine
Turn heat to high and add red wine
meat sauce before reduction
Add passata, stewed tomatoes, beef broth and bring to a boil
meat sauce reduced after 2 hours of cooking
Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until sauce as thickened and flavors have married together.
meat sauce over cooked pasta
Serve over your favorite pasta






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A plate of pasta with meat sauce

Spicepaw’s Spag Bol

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x


A British-Italian pasta classic of tomato sauce, fresh herbs, red wine and beef. This ‘Spag Bol’ is both great comfort food and a family favorite. #familydinners #comfortfood #pasta #sauce #beef



  • 3 strips of bacon (finely chopped)
  • 1 large onion (diced small)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium-sized carrot (diced small)
  • 1 cup chopped celery with leaves (diced small)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (leaves separated from the stalk)
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 4 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
  • 300g (10.5 oz) beef mince
  • 120ml (4 oz)red wine
  • 400g (14 oz) can of stewed tomatoes
  • 680g (24 oz) Passata (tomato sauce)
  • 475ml (2 cups) beef stock
  • 12 tbsp sugar (optional)


  1. In a large pot, add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and heat on a medium flame.
  2. Chop up the bacon into small pieces and cook in the oil until the fat on the back has crisped slightly.
  3. Next, add the minced garlic, small diced onion, carrot and celery.  Cook with the bacon until all the vegetables have softened and are beginning to brown.
  4. When vegetables have softened, add minced beef, chopped oregano, chopped basil, thyme and bay leaves.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the meat has browned and is no longer pink.
  5. Increase heat to high and add the wine so as to deglaze the pan.  Stir and bring to a boil to allow for the alcohol to cook off (this shouldn’t take too long, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and beef stock. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 1-2 hours until the sauce has thickened and all flavors have married together.
  8. Season with salt and pepper at the end and the additional tablespoon or so of sugar if necessary.
  9. Serve atop your favorite pasta and enjoy!

  • Category: Pasta, Sauce
  • Method: stew
  • Cuisine: British, Italian

Keywords: Spaghetti, meat sauce, comfort food, pasta, family dinners, tomato




One Comment Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Looks tasty

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