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Italian Spaghetti Bolognese

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Serves: 4
3 tbsp olive oil
50g / 2 oz unsmoked streaky bacon, rind removed and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
500g / 1lb 2 oz minced beef steak
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
150ml / 1/4 pint red wine
150ml / 1/4 pint beef stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g / 1 lb spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan, add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly coloured. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the minced beef to the pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps in the meat, for 5-8 minutes, or until browned.

Stir the tomatoes and tomato paste into the mince and pour in the wine and stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for at least 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer you leave the sauce to cook, the more intense the flavour. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti and cook for about 8 minutes or until 'al dente'.Drain and arrange on warmed serving plates. Top with the prepared Bolognese sauce and serve immediately sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

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