x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

M cooks: Tagliatelle Bolognese

Why a traditional take on tagliatelle is a stereotype to take seriously, and savour.

Tagliatelle Bolognese is a traditional dish to savour.
Tagliatelle Bolognese is a traditional dish to savour.

I'd like to share one of my pet hates with you this week. I hate it when people say: "Oh, that's such a stereotype," when I come out with statements such as "Chelsea girls are posh" or "Italians talk with their hands" or "Some women marry for money".

The point is, a stereotype exists because over years and years it has built up from what at least began as a truth. Back in Byron's day, or whenever, someone saw an Italian waving his arms around and then told someone else about it and so it went on. Italians got a reputation for waving their arms around.

Now before you come up with your own stereotype about me ("Marco is full of hot air," for example), I would like to tell you why I am belabouring this point. You may have noticed, if you're a particularly perceptive kind of person, that this week's recipe is tagliatelle Bolognese.

"Why do we need to be taught to make this old chestnut?" I can almost hear the cries from the Corniche. "It's such a cliché, such a stereotype."

Ah yes, but it became a stereotype only because it was the most popular pasta dish ever invented. And now you are finally going to be able to make it as it was supposed to be made, and not buy it in a jar. You're going to look at the ingredients list, aren't you, and think: "Can't be bothered," or is that another stereotype?

OK, here's my top tip: whiz the veggies together in your MagiMix and save yourself the hassle of chopping them up.

I just adore the way the meat in this sauce melds with the tomatoes and the veggies. Do let it bubble on a low heat for at least an hour if you have time but don't let too much of the moisture evaporate. Did you know that tomato purée, a key ingredient, is incredibly anti-ageing? I have an aunt who eats it on oatcakes, and she looks great. Apparently, there is something extremely anti-oxidant about the concentrated tomatoes. So that's another reason to make this stereotypically Italian dish.



Tagliatelle Bolognese


150g carrots, finely chopped (around 3 medium)

150g white onion, finely chopped (1 large)

150g celery, finely chopped (2 stalks)

1 tsp garlic, minced (1 clove)

1 sprig rosemary

3 bay leaves, whole

40ml extra virgin olive oil

1kg minced topside beef

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 tbsp tomato purée

800g canned tomato pulp

1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated

640g dry tagliatelle or fettuccine

80g butter, room temperature

150g Parmesan, grated



1. Sweat (cook without colour) the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves in the olive oil in a large casserole on low heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.


2. Add the minced meat and cook on high heat, stirring continually until all the meat is separated. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato purée and tomato pulp and stir well.


3. Reduce the heat to low again, cover with a lid and simmer for around two hours, stirring from time to time to avoid burning.


4. Once cooked, add the grated nutmeg, cover again and let rest. Remove the bay leaves.


5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the tagliatelle for 6-8 minutes in the boiling salted water, stirring often to avoid the pasta sticking together.


6. Combine the tagliatelle with the sauce and stir well. Finish with small cubes of butter.


7. Plate, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.