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pressure cooker bolognese sauce - the right way!

First the grapes, now Italians are trademarking all of their national dishes using DOC (Dominazione d’Origine Controllata).  You can find Pizza Napoletana doc and Steak alla Fiorentina doc “official” and Bolognese Sauce is no exception.   The traditional recipe for Bolognese sauce was deposited by Accademia Italiana della Cucina into the annals of  Blogna’s Chameber of Commerce, in 1982. The instructions are very clear that once all of the ingredients are cut, browned, and evaporated their recipe needs an additional two hours to simmer – a minimum of three hours total.

With a pressure cooker you can cut the simmering part of this recipe from two hours to less than 30 minutes!  The result is a tender, chunky, incredibly flavorful (and official) Bolognese sauce in half the time!  The trick to keeping this sauce thick in the pressure cooker, is to add a cup of water (the only addition to the original recipe)  in the middle of the cooking time.

Serve with egg tagliatelle, fettucine, or some other rich, robust pasta that can hold up to the meatiness and flavor of this sauce.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
4 L or larger none 8 & 7 min. High(2) Normal

4.7 from 12 reviews
Pressure Cooker Bolognese Ragu Pasta Sauce
 
Author: 
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 6 to 8
  • Serving size: ⅛th
  • Calories: 209.3
  • TOTAL Fat: 14.8g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 6.7g
  • Sugar Carbs: 3.2g
  • Sodium: 674.5mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 1.3g
  • Protein: 9.5g
  • Cholesterol: 43.4mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The quantities are for 16 oz or 500 grams of pasta or one large lasagna. You can easily double the recipe and freeze half for next time!
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 oz. (100g) pancetta, or unsmoked bacon, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium celery stalk, chopped
  • 11 oz. (300g) beef, ground
  • ½ cup (125ml) red wine, sangiovese or other dry red wine
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste concentrate (double or triple concentration)
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 to 1½ cups water, hot (see instructions)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In the cold pressure cooker with no oil or butter, with the top off, sprinkle the pancetta in a flat layer and turn on to the lowest heat possible to render the fat.
  2. After the pancetta begins to sizzle (in about 5 minutes) add the onion, carrot and celery and raise the heat to medium-low and cook until well softened (about 10 minutes). If things begin to stick you can add a little pat of butter or swirl of olive oil.
  3. Raise the heat to medium and add the ground beef and brown well stirring occasionally (about 30 minutes or until all of the liquid from the meat is evaporated and the fat begins to sizzle).
  4. Add the wine and scrape the juicy bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan and evaporate it completely (about 7 minutes).
  5. In the meantime, mix the tomato paste with the beef stock and add salt, pepper. Pour the stock mixture into the cooker and stir well.
  6. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  7. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 8 minutes pressure cooking time.
  8. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure through the valve.
  9. Add hot water (1 cup for stovetop and 1½ cups for electric pressure cookers) , stir the contents well and scrape any juicy bits from the bottom to incorporate.
  10. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  11. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 7 minutes pressure cooking When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure through the valve.
  12. Stir in the cream and serve!

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81 Comments

  1. It burned after the first 10 minutes of cooking time, nothing was stuck to the bottom but there was a layer of black underneath the sauce. It smells terrible. I used an instantpot, don’t know what I did wrong. I added all the right amount of liquid. Gutted.

    1. I’m sorry this happened after all of the saute’ work – did you use “manual” or “steam” for the first 10 minute pressure cooking time? Also, it’s very important that when you add the wine you lift all the bits off the bottom otherwise they stick and burn.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. should it be manual or steam for the first 10 min?

        1. It should be Manual – as that setting has an anti-scorch setting. Steam will keep on heating because it assumes that you have water inside the pressure cooker.

          Ciao,

          L

  2. Laura, I have been making Bolognase Sauce for years and its always been a Sunday production. Thanks to your retooling of Italy’s National Recipe I can now make it on a week night and the taste has not missed a beat. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Michael! Please come back to rate the recipe when you next make it (you can add a picture of your Bolognese, too!)

      Ciao,

      L

  3. I’ve made this many times, no burning. Simple and delicious.

    1. Glad to hear it’s a regular!

      Ciao,

      L

  4. y.u.m. adding this to my monthly rotation. thanks!

  5. Tried it three or four times – this has become a once a month dinner in my house. I do find it might burn a little on the bottom if you leave the heat on too high. I added a little extra wine :). I love this recipe. It is quick and the flavours are amazing.

  6. Can I ask – as I am new to pressure cooking. My stovetop pressure cooker has a minimum level on the inside which is about 1/3 of the pot. Do I need to fill it to that level? If I do I might be in danger of creating bolognese soup!

    1. Minimum liquid levels can be tricky. Each manufacturer has a different minimum liquid. They range from 50ml (3 tbs) up to about a litre (quart). Unfortunately it is not just some manufacturers being cautious. It all depends on how much steam escapes during cooking. And that depends on manufacturing tolerances, design of the valves and cooking duration. Check the manual. It should state the minimum clearly. Though a few brands do not. I would be surprised if it is 1/3 of the total volume. That would be 2 litres for most pcs.

      If you cannot find the information there, come back here with the brand and model name. Someone can probably help out.

      Or test it yourself. Place a known amount of water more than 1/3 in the PC. Bring it to high pressure and cook the water for half an hour. Allow it to cool. Then carefully measure the water that is left. Double the difference between the starting quantity and the final amount. That will make an excellent guide for the minimum you need for your PC for everything except for really long cooks. And they are usually in lots of water anyway so shouldn’t be a problem.

  7. Thank you. That is great advice. I will be pressure cooking some gourmet water later to find out my levels. :-)

  8. Perfect! I substituted unsmoked bacon for the pancetta and doubled the recipe to put half in the freezer…. I had no problems and the sauce is outstanding! 5 stars!

  9. So you can double sauce recipes? I like to cook as much at one time as possible. Then just nuke it for instant meals.

    1. As you probably read in the comments above, some recipes need adjustments and not have everything doubled. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  10. This recipe is the absolute best!!!

  11. I tried this recipe tonight. I followed the recipe, but I had browned a little more ground beef. I
    was worried because it looked so thick
    and I was afraid it would not come to pressure and burn. I added an extra 1/2 C of water before the first 10 minutes of pressure. It came to pressure and came out wondeful. Thank you!

  12. Hi – I’m new to the site and have a basic question. When doubling the size of recipes such as this one, do the cooking times change?

    Kind regards
    Colin

    1. Ok…found the answer elsewhere on the site…thank you…

      I made the recipe and doubled the quantities…too salty for my tastes! Will eliminate the added salt next time and see what happens. Also the sauce caught on the bottom of the cooker and burned a bit, which affected the flavour…next time hopefully better!!

      Regards
      C

  13. I also agree it’s very salty. Overall the flavor,is good and worth a second attempt. I do think the water amount is incorrect for an electric PC. I had to simmer for 10+ minutes at the end to reduce it to sauce from soup. Next time I’ll eliminate the salt and use only 1 cup of water.

  14. This was really delicious! Just as good or even better than the last time I made a bolognese sauce from scratch, but in less than half of the time. I used the instant pot, and the bottom of the pot did start burning a little bit after 15 minutes of browning the meat, but I kept scraping the bottom occasionally, and by 25 minutes, all the liquid seemed to have evaporated. Once I added the wine, the rest of the brown bits softened pretty easily. Afraid of there being too much liquid, I added 1 1/4 cups of water after the first 10 minutes on high pressure, and once another 10 minutes had passed, I let the sauce simmer for a little less than 10 minutes to thicken it up a bit more. This will definitely be added to the rotation! Thanks!!

  15. This might be the only “dumb question” that IS asked … the pasta in the above picture is lasagna noodles, right? Thanks so much!

    1. Yes, and no. They are fat fettucine with ruffled edges – I’ve only seen this pasta type in Italy. They are called “Reginette” or “Mafaldine” in Italy. BUT, if you have my cookbook, you’ll find the “sloppy lasagna” recipe which uses a tightened up version of this Ragu that has regular-sized “American” ruffled lasagna strips cooked directly in the sauce. : )

      Ciao,

      L

  16. Hi Laura,

    I’d like to adapt Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese to my Instant Pot. It calls for a 28-oz can of San Marzano tomatoes instead of beef broth and tomato paste. Do you think I’d be able to cook it in one step instead of adding a cup of water halfway through?

  17. This recipe was amazing! I’ve only had my shiny new electric pressure cooker for a few weeks, and decided to prepare this recipe for my visiting in-laws. I doubled it and am so glad I did – it is a keeper! I added maybe a tablespoon of dried Italian herbs and a teaspoon of sugar – delicious!

  18. I love this recipe. It’s my go to when I need something comforting! Sometimes, I even give it out to friends who need a bit of TLC. Thanks Laura!

    I usually add a bit of sugar and a tiny bit of fish sauce, which is my secret ingredient for most meat stews. It improves the depth of flavour even more, without leaving any fish taste whatsoever. Just need to make sure the smell is gone before closing the lid.
    Note of caution: Once I was being lazy, and put everything in the cooker at the start, skipping the mid cooking release. My laziness was repaid with an incredibly horrible burnt crust at the bottom.

  19. Does this recipe really call for 11 and 1/2 cups of water? That seems like way too much. Is it a typo?

    1. It’s missing a hyphen, if you read the instructions, step 9 says the following: Add hot water (1 cup for stovetop and 1½ cups for electric pressure cookers) , stir the contents well and scrape any juicy bits from the bottom to incorporate.

      1. Thank you Jessica and Tracey, I have corrected the ingredient listing to include the letters “to” between 1 and 1 1/2.

        Happy Cooking!

        Ciao,

        L

  20. Seriously the best pasta sauce I have ever made. Thank you so much for this recipe! It will now be a go-to in our house and I can’t wait to check out more of your recipes.

    1. Welcome, Natalie. And thank you!

      Ciao,

      L

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