Farmhouse Spaghetti Bolognese by Marcus Leach

Farmhouse Spaghetti Bolognese by Marcus Leach

 I remember, with great pride I might add, that the first ever badge I earned at Cubs was for cooking. My meal of choice; spaghetti bolognese, a dish that to this very day I still cook on a regular basis, although my recipe has evolved since those early days in the kitchen.Not only is it a dish I love to eat, but given the nature of the fitness challenges I embark on it is a great source of energy to keep me fuelled as I head for the mountains. I dare say that with almost 4000km of cycling in Italy to get through in May (, and that’s just a third of the challenge that lies ahead, it’s a dish that I will be eating a lot of over the coming weeks. With that in mind I wanted to share with you my recipe for a hearty bolognese that’s great for all of the family. 


Ingredients (serves four)


500g lean steak mince 

750ml vegetable stock

175ml red wine

150g pancetta, diced

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 onion, diced

1 pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 sprig of fresh rosemary 

1 teaspoon of herbs de provence 

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Sea salt (optional for seasoning) 




Start by adding the diced pancetta to a large pan over a medium heat. Allow it to start to cook for a few minutes and release some of its natural fat before adding in the garlic, onion, peppers and carrots. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until the onions and peppers soften. 


Next add in the lean steak mince, making sure to break it up with a wooden spoon as you cook it. Whilst the meat browns strip the rosemary and thyme from the stalks and roughly chop. 


Once the meat has browned add in all of the remaining ingredients, stir well and allow to simmer over a low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. It’s important to cook it ‘low and slow’ to allow it to reduce down and infuse with all of the great flavours - you can always add more stock if it starts to look a little dry. 


Once the sauce is ready I always allow it to sit for a few hours - bolognese is one of those sauces that seems to develop an even greater flavour over time - although it can of course be eaten straight away. Just make sure that you take out the bay leaves before serving. 


Cook the pasta according to your own personal preference, I like mine a little al dente, and drain. At this stage I add a splash of olive oil and a twist of black pepper to the pasta, mixing it well before serving with the bolognese sauce. 


You can find out more about Marcus’s Three Grand Tours cycling challenge on his blog ( and via Twitter (, and for those who want to support his fundraising efforts you can donate at Just Giving (

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