Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Pressure Cooked Bolognese with Tagliatelle

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood were enjoying home cooked meals that my mother put together, and one of my favorite dishes of all time is her bolognese sauce with pasta. Bolognese is a delicious, hearty meat sauce eaten in the Bologna region of Italy and is typically put together using a combination of ground meats, such as beef, pork or veal. My spin on the bolognese that takes it to a new level is adding some mascarpone cheese.

Bolognese usually takes a while to make. My mom used to slowly simmer it on the stove or in a low oven for hours and hours on say, a Sunday. She would start it after lunch and then let it cook all afternoon so that it would eventually be ready for dinner. The warm, inviting aromas would fill the whole house and if I was doing homework in my room, it would honestly be hard to concentrate!

I was in the mood for bolognese during the week, and while I love my mom's slow cooked meat sauce, I didn't have all that time. Instead, I used my pressure cooker to make the sauce and help cut down some of the cooking time. Here's what I did:

When I got home from work around 5, I banged out all my mis-en-place. Instead of chopping by hand all of the vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery), I used my food processor instead. After the vegetables were chopped up, I threw them into the pressure cooker pot with some olive oil, salt, and pepper (with the lid off) and started to sweat them down. After cooking for 5-10 minutes, I added in some chopped garlic along with some dried herbs, such as oregano, basil and thyme.

While the vegetables were cooking, in a seperate pan, I browned up some ground pork, beef, and sweet italian sausage (tip: buy the sausage meat without the casings from your butcher - also typically a bit cheaper).

After the ground meat was browned all over, I threw this into the pressure cooker pot that contained all the sweated vegetables. With all the ingredients combined, I finally added in a few cups of red wine, canned crushed tomatoes, and a cup or two of leftover chicken stock I had hanging out in the fridge. I brought this up to a boil, put the lid on the pressure cooker, and then lowered the flame to medium-low.

I let the sauce cook in the pressure cooker for around an hour. Pressure cooking is great because it cuts down the cooking time and gives you that all-day cooking taste without the time and hassle. It takes a little time to let the pressure inside the pot to dissipate and you won't be able to open the lid until it does, but a good way to quicken this process is to manually release some pressure using the steam valve at the top of the pot (I usually use a pair of tongs for this). Another way is to take the pressure cooker and run it under cold water in your sink. Whatever you do, be careful and use caution because a pressure cooker can be dangerous if not used correctly. To be safe, always consult the instruction guide that came from the manufacturer with the pressure cooker.

To finish the sauce, I added a dollop of mascarpone cheese along with some jullienned fresh basil just at the end before serving. I served the bolognese with some Barilla tagliatelle pasta. Absolutely delicious!


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