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I make Bolognese and homemade pasta every year on Christmas Eve. Sometimes I’ll turn it into a Lasagne alla Bolognese and other times we eat it straight up with hand cut noodles. The process of having nowhere to go and nothing to do but eat, cook, wrap presents and be merry makes the long AF simmering time seem nothing more than an excuse for extra Christmas cheer.
Enter the remaining 364 days of my year and ain’t nobody got time for that. By the time I’m able to make dinner, I’ve already worked a full day, wrestled a very strong toddler and made him some form of dinner he likely doesn’t end up eating. Needless to say there is no way in hell I’ve got the time nor patience to stand over a pot of simmering meat sauce for upwards of 3 hours.
HOWEVER, sometimes you just need a comforting bowl of pasta topped with a sauce with that slow-simmered taste. Or perhaps you have a husband (who shall remain nameless) that requests Bolognese for dinner on a Tuesday night as if that’s normal.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and from that necessity this Weeknight Bolognese was born. Now before we go any further, let me offer a disclaimer that this Bolognese strays slightly from tradition, so please don’t call the DOC or DOP on me. The first transgression is that it’s cooked in an Instant Pot rather than in a saucepan on the stove. The second is that instead of ground pork, I used spicy Italian sausage. I found that using sausage already packed with seasoning really helped to develop the flavor more quickly than when starting with plain ground meat.
Now if you can get past my riffs, I promise you this cheater’s Bolognese is just as good as the real thing. Will I stop making the real deal on Christmas? No. Because what are the holidays without tradition? Will I make this version at least once a week? Absolutely.
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 60 minutes
Yield: Serves or Makes 6-8
Set Instant Pot® to ‘sauté’ function and add olive oil. Add pancetta and cook until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Once pancetta has crisped, add onion, celery and carrot and season to taste with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add ground beef and sausage cook until evenly browned, about 7 minutes, break up the meat with the back of a fork while cooking to eliminate any large chunks. Once meat is cooked through, add tomato paste and toss the vegetables and meat until evenly coated. Cook for about two minutes, then add wine and deglaze. Cook until wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and liquid from the can along with bay leaves. Add Instant Pot® lid and set vent to the close or sealing position. Set the Instant Pot® to the manual high pressure setting for 30 minutes. When cooking time is up, let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before manually releasing and remaining pressure.
When you are able to open the Instant Pot®, turn the machine off, then reset it to the ‘sauté’ function. Let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Turn the machine off again and find is discard bay leaves. When the sauce has settled to a gentle simmer, add heavy cream and season to taste.
Serve over cooked pasta with Parmesan cheese on top. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.