John Torode's meat ragu recipe

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Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time2 hours 30 mins
Total Time2 hours 45 mins

You can't go wrong with this easy, hearty ragu recipe which John Torode learned he was eight - from an Italian!


  • 1kg mince
  • 200ml red wine
  • 60ml vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A good shake of dried herbs, but not a lot
  • 3 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
  • 20g tomato paste




  1. Take the meat and massage the red wine into it so that the mince absorbs it.
  2. Heat a big, heavy pan. Add the oil and onions and cook gently (or sweat) until translucent. Add the garlic, a good amount of ground pepper and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and stir until the garlic starts to give off a fragrant aroma.
  3. Add the meat and herbs and continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes, until the meat starts to get a little colour.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  5. Serve with any pasta or gnocchi.
Top Tip for making John Torode's meat ragu

Try to avoid supermarket mince as it’s frozen to mince it in huge quantities and cooks like chicken pellets - instead buy mince from a good butcher. A good ragu needs fat to keep it moist and full flavoured. Make lots and store it in the freezer for a rainy day.