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Real Food: Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is one of Italy's most famous dishes, but you won't find it in Italy. Pasta sauce made from tomatoes, mince, garlic and herbs is of course perfectly acceptable in Italy, but it is not associated with Bologna.

Bologna is in Emilia-Romagna, the home of Parma ham, Parmesan, butter and cream; so it wouldn't occur to them to make a dish based on southern ingredients such as tomatoes and spaghetti.

In Bologna you will be served the local egg-based tagliatelle or lasagne verdi with a rich meat sauce such as the one below. Try it for a change.

Ragù Bolognese

Finely chop a large onion, large carrot and stick of celery into tiny diced pieces (this classic sauce base is called soffritto). Finely chop 250g of pancetta (or streaky bacon). Trim 400g of lean beef (rump or round) and 400g of lean pork and chop into small diced pieces.

Melt 50g of butter in a large pot, add the soffritto mix and cook for two minutes. Next add the pancetta and stir and cook for a further five minutes.

Add the diced beef and pork and stir 'til browned. Mix 3tbsp of tomato purée with 400ml of beef stock and add to the pot along with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for between three and six hours, the longer the better.

Stir in 100ml cream a few minutes before serving with tagliatelle (preferably egg-based, dried tagliatelle) and grated Parmesan.

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