When I was a kid, spaghetti with meat sauce was part of my mom’s regular rotation. We’re not even slightly Italian, but that didn’t matter to us kids - we loved it, especially with a cheap loaf of garlic bread.
Now I’m cooking for my own kids, and spaghetti night is still a fan favorite. I love traditional Ragu Bolognese - as a sunday dinner. This is a cheater weeknight version of a long simmered Italian-American ragu. I use my pressure cooker to bend time to my will, and use Italian sausage for a quick and easy flavor boost. Is it as good as a long-simmered sauce, lovingly stirred by grandma all afternoon? No, of course not. But it’s still made with love for my kids - just a little faster than Grandma used to make.
Pressure Cooker Italian Meat Sauce - Time Lapse [YouTube.com]
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Italian Meat Sauce
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot Duo)
Pressure Cooker Italian Meat Sauce
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
Pressure Cooker Italian Meat Sauce recipe - using the pressure cooker to make a meat sauce with all day simmered flavor in about an hour.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
- ½ cup red wine or water
- 1 ¼ pounds hot Italian sausage (bulk sausage, or links with casings removed)
- 1 ¼ pounds sweet Italian sausage (bulk sausage, or links with casings removed)
- 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade, or water
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Fry the soffrito: Heat the oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat (Saute mode in an electric pressure cooker) until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper flakes and kosher salt, then saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes.
- Simmer the wine: Pour the wine into the pot and stir, scraping any stuck bits of onion loose from the bottom. Simmer the wine for 1 minute to boil off some of the alcohol.
- Cook the sausage: Stir the sausage into the pot and cook, stirring often, until the sausage just loses its pink color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients: Stir in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Tie the herb sprigs together and toss them into the pot.
- Pressure cook the meat sauce: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring it up to high pressure, and cook at high pressure for 20 minutes in an electric PC, 16 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure to come down naturally, about 20 minutes.
- Serve: Stir in the fresh ground black pepper, then taste the sauce for seasoning. Canned tomatoes and Italian sausage are usually highly seasoned, so you probably won't need to add more, but if you have low-sodium tomatoes, the sauce may need some salt to taste sweet. Serve over pasta.
Instead of the dried herbs, you can use fresh herbs:
1 sprig fresh basil (3-4 large leaves plus stem)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
-add them with the tomatoes, and remove the stems before serving
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Italian
- If you want to cut back on the fat in the sauce, skim as much fat from the surface of the pot as possible before serving. Or, make the sauce the night before, and refrigerate. The fat will float to the top and form a solid fat cap that you can easily scrape off. Reheat the sauce and it is ready to serve.
- 1 cup of chicken broth is the right amount to keep the tomaotes in this recipe from burning…in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. If the sauce is scorching on the bottom of your pressure cooker, try adding a second cup of chicken stock to the recipe, and don’t stir the tomatoes in, just float them on top of the pot.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Pressure Cooker Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)
Pressure Cooker Chicken Broth and Shredded Chicken
How to Make Instant Pot Goulash
My Instant Pot (pressure cooker recipe) list
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This was excellent. I made a half recipe, cutting everything in half and even cut the chicken broth down to 1/4 cup (based upon the previous comment) and had no issues with the tomatoes scorching or coming up to pressure. Seemed to be the perfect consistency.
Mine ended up way too watery. How do I fix that issue?
Mike V says
Cut back to 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and simmer after removing the lid for a few minutes to thicken it up.
Aaron Friedman says
A tablespoon of gelatin would help too.
This was excellent. I made mine with some hot Italian sausage (I had two in my fridge) and the rest of the meat ratio in ground beef. It tasted like bolognese cooked in the oven!
Chris L says
Looks tasty! If you decide to tweak the recipe in the future, I'm curious if you can get similar results with dried herbs. Basil, rosemary, and thyme in my area are rarely sold in individual sprigs and end up costing several bucks a piece getting the bulk packs (most of which goes bad before the next use).
Mike V says
Substitute 1 teaspoon of Italian herb mix for the fresh herbs - add it to the soffrito with the red pepper flakes. (Or, do what I do – get the “poultry mix” of fresh herbs, which has rosemary and thyme sprigs, plus oregano and sage, all in one box. Then I skip the basil if it isn’t summer, when I have a basil plant in a pot on my deck.)