While the dish has been a staple for millions of diners around the world for decades, Italians claimed the original reciope has become so corrupted it is in urgent need of culinary rescue. Gourmands insist that the popular dish's apparent simplicity is deceptive, and throw their arms up in dismay when they see chicken or turkey used as a substitute for the key ingredient, minced beef. Authentic ingredients include pancetta, carrots, celery, onions, tomato paste and a dash of wine. They have to conform to a recipe set down in 1982 by the chamber of commerce in Bologna - the home of bolognese. 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"
- 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/2¼lb lean minced beef
- 2 large glasses of red wine
- 2x400g cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 800g-1kg/1¾-2¼lb dried tagliatelle
- freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- 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 tagliatelle 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.
- Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and mix with the sauce. Serve with the Parmesan cheese.