Elizabeth David's Spaghetti Bolognese

READY IN: 1hr 8mins


  • 1
    tablespoon butter (for sauteing beef, livers, and ham -15 g)
  • 3
    ounces uncooked ham, cut in small pieces (both fat and lean - 85 g -- pancetta, prosciutto, Parma ham, or bacon)
  • 2 12
    ounces carrots, finely chopped (65 g, 1 medium carrot)
  • 5 12
    ounces onions, finely chopped (1 medium onion, 155 g)
  • 8
    teaspoons celery, finely chopped (17 g, 1 small piece, .6 oz.)
  • 8
    ounces lean ground beef (225 g)
  • 4
    ounces chicken livers, chopped (115 g)
  • 3
    teaspoons concentrated tomato puree
  • 5
    fluid ounces dry white wine
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 18
    teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (1 scraping)
  • 10
    fluid ounces stock or 10 fluid ounces water
  • 1
    cup warm cream (optional) or 1 cup warm milk (optional)
  • 12
    ounces spaghetti or 12 ounces tagliatelle pasta noodles, cooked
  • 2
    tablespoons butter (1 teaspoon per serving)
  • 14
    cup grated parmesan cheese, for serving


  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat (I would use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven). Brown the bacon or ham gently until brown.
  • Add the onion, carrot, and celery and stir until they are browned.
  • Add the raw minced beef, and turn it over so it all browns evenly.
  • Add the chopped chicken livers, and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  • Then add the tomato puree and brown for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the white wine, and deglaze for 4-7 minutes. Season with salt (taking into account the saltiness of the ham or bacon), pepper, and a scraping of nutmeg.
  • Add the meat stock or water. If using cream or milk, stir in gradually. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and simmer the sauce very gently for 30-40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return the pasta to the hot pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, and toss to impregnate the pasta with the sauce. Serve in pasta bowls, top with 1 teaspoon of butter, and pass grated cheese at the table.