Do you love the rich and hearty, classic Italian meat sauce, known as Bolognese? If so, you probably know that it often calls for an all-day simmer to develop the multi-dimensional flavors that make this sauce so memorable.
And while it is comforting and enjoyable to fill your home with the pleasant aroma of Bolognese simmering on the stove… more often than not, you need dinner on the table quick!
Today, we feature an authentic, stick-to-your ribs Instant Pot Bolognese sauce with all the comfort and delicious flavors you expect… that can be on the table in just 30 minutes!
If that sounds interesting (and delicious), please keep reading…
Instant Pot Bolognese: Hearty Food for Hungry Skiers
It was a particularly cold day on the slopes here in Utah. And we’d stayed much longer than anticipated. The result? Three tired and very hungry skiers.
While the lodge offered some (unhealthy) options, I was dreaming up something much more satisfying…
A big, meaty pot of Bolognese.
In the Mother Country, this famous meat sauce is known as Ragù alla Bolognese or simply Ragù. Hailing from Bologna, Italy, this traditional dish is typically served over tagliatelle – a wide pasta, perfect for sopping up the hearty, rich sauce.
And Bolognese has been fueling hungry Italian families for generations. In fact, the first recipe dates back to 1891, from an Italian cookbook titled “La sienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bane” which translates to The Science of Cooking & the Art of Eating Well.
Instant Pot Bolognese: Ingredients for the Classic
While secondary ingredients (like white wine and cream) are up for debate, most experts agree that a true Bolognese always includes a mix of meats (typically beef, pork and veal) and tomatoes in one form or another.
Bolognese also relies heavily on battuto – a finely-chopped trinity of onions, carrots and celery. In classical preparations, these ingredients are sautéed in butter and olive oil to create a vegetal base, called soffritto. This offers a delicious contrast the acidic tomatoes and rich meat. Seasoning is generally kept to a minimum to allow the star ingredients to shine.
Classic Bolognese is typically simmered for at least a few hours. But I didn’t have all day… I needed dinner on the table FAST!
The answer to most of my culinary dilemmas these days is the Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker. But I wondered if it could deliver that cooked-all-day-flavor? And would it be a crime against ragù?
Instant Pot Bolognese: Not a Crime against Ragù
The Italians take their cuisine very seriously. Recipes are often handed down for generations. And it is said that the Italians call Americanized versions of this dish – namely, Spaghetti alla Bolognese – “crimes against ragù”.
A traditional Bolognese is served over wide noodles (tagliatelle, pappardelle and fettuccine are all acceptable). It also includes no herbs in the sauce – or sugar (ahem!) as is often the case with versions in the States.
So, using the classic ingredients – including grass-fed beef, bacon, the battuto trinity, diced tomatoes, butter, olive oil, cream and white wine – I set out on a mission to make an authentic version of Bolognese… in record time!
First, I cooked the bacon using the Sauté function on the Instant Pot. Once the bacon was cooked, I removed it from the pot, leaving the flavorful lard behind. Then I tossed in the trinity of onions, celery and carrots which I cheater-chopped using my food processor (in two minutes flat!). I let these sizzle in the leftover bacon grease and a bit of butter for about five minutes for more flavor and satiating fat.
Then, I added the grass-fed beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in the pot as it cooked for just a few minutes. The goal was to just start the cooking process and incorporate the battuto. I tossed in the cooked bacon, white wine, and olive oil and seasoned the mixture with sea salt, giving it another good stir.
Next, I poured in two 16-oz jars of diced tomatoes, added the bay leaves, gave the whole pot a final stir, closed and locked the lid. On the “Manual” setting, I selected HIGH pressure and set the time for 15 minutes (yes, that’s right… just 15 minutes!).
While the Kitchen Magician was busy transforming the ingredients, I got busy with the rest of the meal.
I quickly spiralized some zucchini pappardelle and pulled a batch of my Keto Fettuccine from the freezer (both acceptably wide “noodles”!). I put a loaf of Keto Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia in the toaster oven to warm and opened a bottle of dry Italian red wine – thank you Dry Farm Wines!
As I pulled out some organic mixed greens and Primal Kitchen Dreamy Italian salad dressing, my smallest (and hungriest) skier was helping to set the table. I love it when a plan comes together!
I had staved off my boys from raiding the pantry or fridge for a full 30 minutes, but I knew I didn’t have much more time…
The Instant Pot beeped. I did a quick release, and set it to Sauté again to drive off some of the water. I poured in the heavy cream and gave it one last stir.
We all sat down to enjoy our authentic Italian après ski meal… and no one said a word. 🙂
Yet another Instant Pot success!
Instant Pot Bolognese: The Printable Recipe
- 6 slices pastured bacon, diced
- 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter
- 2 stalks organic celery, minced
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
- 1½ tsp. sea salt
- 2 ounces dry white wine
- 2 16-oz. cans organic diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 whole bay leaves
- ⅓ cup organic heavy cream
- Press Sauté on the Instant Pot. Add the bacon and cook 4-5 minutes. Strain bacon and set aside.
- Add the butter, diced onion, celery and carrots and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
- Add the grass-fed beef and sea salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, about 4 minutes.
- Add the cooked bacon and wine and cook 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, olive oil and bay leaves. Cover and cook HIGH pressure for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, do a natural release. Remove all of the bay leaves. Pour in the heavy cream and stir. If the sauce seems thin, press Sauté and let simmer to drive off excess liquid.
- Serve over Cappello's pasta, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash
1 g polyunsaturated fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrate, 4 g NET carbs,
0 g sugar alcohols, 3 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 19 g protein, 507 mg potassium,
200 mg phosphorous, 621 mg sodium, 32 mg magnesium
68% FAT | 26% PROTEIN | 6% CARBOHYDRATE