While spaghetti bolognese has been a staple for millions of diners around the world for decades, Italians have long claimed the original recipe has become so corrupted it is in need of culinary rescue. Most people, particularly foreigners, get the recipe wrong from the very start, purists insist. Instead of spaghetti, they say it is tagliatelle that should be cooked to go with the rich meat and tomato sauce, making it "tag bol" rather than "spag bol". Abominations such as turkey mince, American meatballs, butter and cream have no part in a true spaghetti bolognese and need to be stamped out, say the guardians of Italy's culinary heritage. So here's is a traditional recipe, approved by Italian chefs in Bologna. SERVES 4 INGREDIENTS 2 tbsp olive oil 6 rashers of streaky 'pancetta' bacon, chopped 2 large onions, chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 2 carrots, chopped Stick of celery 1kg lean minced beef 2 large glasses of red wine 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes 2 fresh or dried bay leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper 800g-1kg dried tagliatelle freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve METHOD Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the bacon until golden over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, frying until softened. Increase the heat and add the minced beef. Fry it until it has browned. Pour in the wine and boil until it has reduced in volume by about a third. Reduce the temperature and stir in the tomatoes and celery. Cover with a lid and simmer over a gentle heat for 1-1½ hours until it's rich and thickened, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and divide between plates. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the pasta before adding a good ladleful of the sauce. Finish with a further scattering of cheese and a twist of black pepper. Traditional dishes | Read more This article was first published in January, 2010.
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