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Want to Make Better Pasta Sauce? Use Your Instant Pot

Get the flavor of a daylong simmer in under an hour.

Colin Price

Making authentic bolognese is a daylong affair — a cooking commitment whose extended simmering mellows the acidity of tomatoes and melds flavors. Cooking bolognese with an Instant Pot, though, is like cooking at warp speed. Since it was introduced in 2009, the multi-cooker has risen to cult status, most loved for its pressure-cooking abilities. It’s a perennial bestseller on Amazon and the subject of dozens of blogs, Facebook groups and cookbooks, like The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. The book offers nearly 100 recipes for new users, as well as those more comfortable with the multi-cooker’s nuances, with tips and tricks to take pressure cooking to the next level.

In the case of bolognese sauce, sautéing before pressurizing kickstarts the Maillard reaction. It’s an extra step that boosts flavor and texture to yield a sauce that tastes like it’s spent a full day simmering — without actually adding any time. And in that regard, it perfectly reflects why the Instant Pot has become an object of kitchen worship.

Fettuccine with Bolognese Sauce

Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, liquid retained
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds fettuccine, or pasta shape of your choice (cooked)
Parmesan cheese (for serving)

1. Select the “Sauté” setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and salt and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and is translucent. Add the beef and pork and sauté, breaking them up with a wooden spoon or spatula until cooked through and no traces of pink remain, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Stir in the wine, tomato paste, bay leaves and pepper.

3. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to “Sealing.” Press the “Cancel” button to reset the cooking program, then select the “Meat/Stew” setting and set the cooking time for 35 minutes at high pressure.

4. When the timer goes off, you have two choices: You can perform a quick release by moving the Pressure Release to “Venting” and serve the sauce right away, or you can let the pressure release naturally and leave the sauce in the Instant Pot on the “Keep Warm” setting for up to 10 hours.

5. Open the pot and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon the sauce over pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

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