Pasta Bolognese – Take 2

Cook date: March 15, 2020

Back in November 2018 I made an Italian Meat Sauce recipe. It rated 3 stars but I thought I could find a way to move it up a star. Finally this past January I tried again with the adjustments I thought would improve it. No go, it was much too fatty.

Carla and I thought it would be fun to explore pressure cooker Bolognese recipes. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 candidates and today I started with the first recipe. This recipe is from The Striped Spatula website written by Amanda Biddle. I’ve never cooked any of her recipes before but this one looked promising. Although it’s almost Spring it snowed the day before and was plenty chilly this morning. Pasta was just what we needed.

We had invited friends over, but with the Corona virus scare we disinvited everyone a couple of days ahead of time. I’m at the intersection of 2 different risk groups so have determined to be especially careful for a few weeks. But we did drop off pints of Handel’s ice cream which would have been our dessert.

The first thing that drew me to this recipe. First, Amanda’s insistence on using San Marzano crushed tomatoes in pureé. My regular market had San Marzano style tomato sauces but not the real deal. I found some at Whole Foods and picked up two cans. One for now and one for later. It doesn’t say it’s in pureé, but, spoiler alert, it worked out fine.

A few weeks ago, Linda sent me a link about San Marzano tomatoes. Seems there is a whole debate on the subject, and if the tomatoes are crushed – as they are here – they don’t qualify. Whatever, the sauce was great.

San Marzano tomatoes – A necessity for Bolognese
Bolognese sauce – 1st group of ingredients (Plus pasta)

Of course we dice onion, carrots, and celery to form our mirepoix base. There is way more onion that the other ingredients; the carrots and celery are sitting on top of some onions.

Mirepoix for Bolognese sauce

The second thing that pulled me to this recipe was the use of pancetta – in addition to lean ground beef and ground sausage. If your market has pancetta, it’s likely in the butcher case. You’ll need to dice it before cooking

Pork, ground beef and pancetta for Sauce Bolognese

You’re not really cooking Italian food unless you have garlic and wine.

Garlic for sauce Bolognese
Oregon pinot noir – the best wine on the planet

Almost the full set of ingredients are in place.

Sauce Bolognese mise en place

The first step is to sauté the mirepoix. Next we add the meat, breaking up the ground meats into small pieces. Then we add the tomato paste and garlic for a minute or two followed by deglazing the pan with some wine. Toss in the tomatoes, a bit of water and Italian parsley and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. Here it is before pressure cooking.

Sauce Bolognese ready to be cooked under pressure

Quick release the pressure as soon as the time is up, then simmer for a few minutes to thicken Unlike stove top, we don’t lose much moisture cooking in the Instant Pot. I had my pasta water simmering and cranked the heat to cook the pasta while the sauce thickened. I don’t normally use spaghetti noodles – just because. The staging picture above include Tórchiette which we like. But we had a half a pound of open Penne; because it was just the two of us we used that instead.

While the sauce cooks, we stage the final couple of ingredients: whipping cream and nutmeg. We were also supposed to toss in a bit more flat leaf Italian parsley but I had a small issue with the second batch -we won’t go into it.

After draining the pasta I returned it to the pot and added about ½ cup of the sauce to it. Then spooned some into pasta bowls and poured more sauce on top.

Pasta Bolognese – Almost ready to eat.

It’s not complete without plenty of salty, nutty parmesan reggiano cheese on top.
Dinner is served.

Dinner is served – Pasta Bolognese
Pasta Bolognese and wine.

We may not make it to the remaining two contenders. Stay tuned. I don’t have a link to my copy of the recipe because I made no adjustments to it. If it looks good, go to Amanda Biddle’s page and cook it up!

Rating: ★★★★ 4 out of 5 stars. A great dish for company (though it will be a few weeks before the Corona virus self-quarantine is over. By then it will be barbecue season.

A note on the pictures. This is the first time I used the full lighting set up with my Sony A6600 and the Sony 18-135 lens. I use 2 off-camera speedlights: one with a reflector umbrella and one with a softbox. It took me some time to get the setting close to right; the settings are much different from my Sony A7R3. But I was happy with the results.

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