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David Archer’s ragu sauce

Wednesday 9 October 2013, 19:10

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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David's ragu David's ragu


We’ve had a peek at the recipe that David is putting forward for Emma’s charity cookbook. Which characters’ recipes would you like to try?

Ragu sauce

I learned to cook this when I was at Cirencester. The longer you cook it the better, so try making it at lunchtime and letting it bubble on a very low heat all afternoon – ideally in the simmering oven of the Aga. 

Serves 4 or 5, depending on whether you’ve been doing stock work or not. If you’ve been lambing or calving, make it 1½ lbs of mince and add an extra tin of tomatoes.


1 lb Brookfield Hereford beef mince
2 or 3 rashers of streaky bacon
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 large carrot
1 stick of celery
1 beef stock cube
A few mushrooms if you’ve got them
1 tin of tomatoes
A squidge of tomato purée
1 glass of red wine (plus one to drink while you’re cooking)
Any herbs you’ve got knocking around
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


Peel and chop the onion, put a decent splash of oil in a big casserole dish and fry the onions over a medium heat with the lid on so they go yellowy. Peel and mince the garlic clove and stick that in after a few minutes.  Taste the wine.

Chop the bacon into little pieces (Mum uses scissors for this, which actually works quite well) and then cut the carrot and celery into little pieces too. Don’t use scissors for this, it doesn’t work.

Put the bacon in the pan and stir it round for a minute, then add the beef. Stir that round so it all gets nice and brown. Another mouthful of wine helps at this point.

When the beef looks ok, put the carrot and celery in, and chopped mushrooms if you have them. Stir all those round for a minute then add a tin of toms, the stock cube made up with between half a pint and a pint of boiling water, squelch of tomato purée, the wine (topping up your glass afterwards), herbs , salt and pepper.

Give it all a good stir and let it bubble up, then stick the lid back on and cook slowly for at least two hours.

Serve with pasta.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer

Learn more about David and the actor who plays him in our Who’s Who

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I made one almost to this recipe last night, but I added chopped up salami instead of bacon and some chilli flakes as well as fresh chilli's. I didn't use a stock cube because of the salt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    sounds good ..very good .Reckon will try this next week but rather than use miced beef will try beef cut into small pieces .May serve with dumplings as well .Thanks David .That red wine is essential :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    OMG - When people start dropping dead left, right & centre when this gets published, don't blame anything but the "Curse of David Archer". You have been warned.


  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Not enough wine while cooking!! Otherwise a perfect sauce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    As a vegetarian, I must say I cannot wait for Amy's Parsnip and Potato Pasta. Or maybe I can.

    I have Martha Woodford's The Archer's Country Cookbook (AAAAAAA!) (I screamed at the wireless when the Scriptie made Caroline call it a "Cook Book" - we are not American), Peggy Archer's Book of Recipes (cotains a recipe for a dish called "Nothing" - and tells that the juice of the celendine cureth the itch); Doris Archer's Farm Cookery Book (hidden from Mike, lest he froth at the mouth); The Ambridge Book of Country Cooking by Caroline Bone (the one where she gives the lie to the notion that Adrian Netherbourne is her uncle as she states
    "Lord Netherbourne, bless him, is my father's second cousin. He may even be once or twice removed ") and Jennifer Aldridges Archers Cookbook (glad I only spent £2.50 in charity shop on that).

    So will not be wanting "2NVQs" Grundy leaflet.


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