Pressure Cooker Pasta Casserole! A Cheesy, Meaty, Mess! (Mezzemaniche Pasticciate)
In Italy, whenever you bake a pasta that is not a specifically designed to be baked (like lasagne and cannelloni) you get a delicious pasticcio… mess!
This recipe can actually end up as one of two dishes. Once the pasta is finished pressure cooking, you can serve it as-is and enjoy simple “Pasta al Ragu”, pasta in meat sauce… or, pour the contents into a casserole, layer it with mozzarella and stick it under the grill for a few minutes to melt and you have pasta pasticciata.
Pressure Cooker Pasta Recipe with Cheese and Meat (Mezzemaniche Pasticciate)
1 lb or 500g of Mezzemaniche, Rigatoni, Ziti or Penne Pasta
1 swig Red Wine (whatever you’re having with dinner)
Oven-safe casserole dish
In the pre-heated pressure cooker, on medium heat without the top, add a couple of tablespoons of butter and soften the chopped onion, carrot and celery (about 5 minutes). Then, turn up the heat to high and add the ground meat, 1/2 tsp of salt and ground pepper. Break it up carefully and brown it on all sides, the meat should be almost fully cooked (about 10 minutes). When all of the water has evaporated from the meat and it is sizzling and golden add a swig of red wine – just enough to wet and de-glaze the pan. Wait for it to evaporate fully (about 1 minute) before continuing with the recipe.
Pour in the pasta, tomato puree, another 2 tsp.salt and enough water to cover the pasta. Give it a good stir and flatten it as much as possible (to use as little water as possible).
Set the pan to cook on LOW pressure. Turn the heat up to high and when the pan has reached LOW pressure, lower the heat and count 5 minutes (or the recommended time). When time is up, open the pressure cooker using the cold-water quick-release method – take your pressure cooker to the sink and carefully run water over the top ensuring not to cover any of the valves.
For Electric Pressure Cookers: Open using the Normal Method – turn the valve or button to release pressure. Since Electric Pressure cookers differ in their time to pressure, cooking pressure, and require a Normal release (which can take up to two minutes) you may need to shave off an additional minute or two from the pressure cooking time to achieve al dente results.
Give the contents a stir and let the pasta sit for about a minute – if you serve it now you have pasta with meat sauce- or continue with the recipe…
Pour out half the contents of the pressure cooker into the oiled casserole. Then, sprinkle half the cheese on top. Pour out the rest of the contents on top of that and sprinkle the rest of the cheese, dot with pats of butter to taste.
Place casserole under grill for 3-5 minutes, until all the cheese has melted and is just starting to be tinged with gold. Let the casserole rest for about 5 minutes while the cheese cools a little and hardens into a crunchy top.