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Food and Drink

Serve a bowl of comfort with this feeds-a-crowd Instant Pot Bolognese sauce

  • Author: Julia O'Malley
  • Updated: December 6, 2018
  • Published December 6, 2018

Instant Pot Bolognese for a crowd. (Julia O'Malley / ADN)

It took me a little bit to get my act together after Friday’s earthquake for sure. By the time Sunday came around, all the glass was swept up and the pictures were hanging straight, but I still needed to see my people around the dinner table to feel like things were getting back to normal. Only thing is, I have A LOT of people. And I didn’t have a ton of time. So I went for my go-to quick, simple spaghetti sauce recipe. Spaghetti means comfort to us. And I’m always looking for a reason to get out my Italian grandmother’s Parmesan cheese bowl.

True Italian spaghetti sauces are often simple like this one, which has a limited number of ingredients. Using the Instant Pot saves a ton of time, lets you go run errands while it cooks, and you can put the meat in straight from the freezer. (You can also make this in a regular pot, but I’d recommend simmering it for at least an hour and half.) Blending it with a hand-blender (you can also throw it in a regular blender) at the end is essential for the perfect texture. Kids love the stuff.

It serves 10 generously, and there will be some leftovers. It’s a little on the soupy side. I don’t mind that, as I like my pasta combined with my sauce. But if you like a thicker sauce, try draining one or both of the cans of tomatoes and reserving the juice to add in later. I sometimes throw half a batch in the freezer when I’m not feeding an army. Serve it with some garlic bread and a kale Caesar salad, and you’ll be the winner of family dinner.

Simple Instant Pot Bolognese for a crowd

Serves 10, generously


Olive oil

2 medium-sized carrots, diced

1 large white onion, diced

4 large cloves of garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

1 pound Italian sausage

1 pound beef, bison or other game

1/2 cup red wine

2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

Sea salt to taste

Good Parmesan for serving

(I recommend about 1 1/2-2 pounds dry spaghetti for this amount of sauce.)

Method: Set the Instant Pot on saute and cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. Add carrot, onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add meat, pour in wine and tomatoes (drain one of them if you want a thicker sauce, and reserve the juice to thin if necessary), and add the bay leaves. Set the Instant Pot on the “stew” setting, which will cook for 35 minutes. Allow it to release pressure naturally. (The whole process will take about an hour.) Open the Instant Pot carefully. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until smooth. (If you put the meat in frozen, break it up with a spoon before blending.) Add salt to taste. Set it on the “keep warm” setting. Serve tossed with with hot pasta (pro tip: Italians always set a timer and cook their noodles to the exact package cooking time) and pass extra sauce and Parmesan at the table.

Family dinner. (Julia O'Malley / ADN)

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