View Full Version : Rita’s Favorite Chunky Meat Sauce for Spaghetti (Pressure Cooker)

Rita Y
01-26-2008, 01:15 PM

Makes about 6 1/2 cups sauce; 12 (1/2-cup) OR 8 (3/4-cup) servings. This recipe ingredient list looks long, but it goes together very quickly and tastes like a long-simmered sauce.

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage, or links with casings removed

1 (8 ounce) carton sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cups (9 ounces) diced zucchini (optional)
7 ounces medium-dice onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
2 ribs medium-sliced celery
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed Aleppo or red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon table salt

1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a 4- or 6-quart pressure cooker (8-quart, if doubling) or a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef and sausage until red is gone, leaving meat chunky.
....REMOVE MEAT with a slotted spoon and drain off fat from cooker. [I pour the meat into a strainer over a bowl to drain off fat, then spread meat on paper towels — RDY]

2. PLACE A HEAT DIFFUSER under cooker (optional; I like the 11-inch Calphalon diffuser).
....RETURN MEAT to the cooker and add the mushrooms, optional squash, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, sugar, oregano, crushed fennel seeds, salt, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
....POUR ON TOP of the meat-vegetable mixture the stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. DO NOT STIR THEM IN!

3. LOCK LID in place. Bring cooker up to high pressure (15 psi).
....COOK for 10 minutes. (For an electric digital pressure cooker, cook for 6 minutes.)

4. MEANWHILE, bring pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente ac cording to package directions.
....DRAIN PASTA and, if necessary, keep warm by placing spaghetti in colander and placing colander over simmering water.

5. QUICK-RELEASE the pressure (for an electric digital pressure cooker, use a Natural Release).

....SERVE SAUCE over spaghetti.
....SPRINKLE with Parmesan; pass extra cheese at the table.

1. FOR AN ALL-BEEF SPAGHETTI SAUCE, add a pork chop without browning it. Serve the chop separately or chop it finely and add it back into the sauce.

2. MULTI-MEAT SAUCE: Add either meatballs or stew meat (1-inch cubes), either a cut-up chicken or bone-IN chicken thighs, AND either Italian sausages whole) or pork shoulder (1 1/2-inch cubes). Brown them, transfer to the pressure cooker, top with the sauce ingredients, and cook as directed. I cooking on the stovetop, remove meats from the sauce and continue cooking the sauce for a couple of hours. Break up the pork, cut the sausages into chunks, and remove the chicken from the bone. Return the meats to the sauce. OR, TO FREEZE, pack into quart-size freezer containers, dividing the meat equally among them before topping with the sauce. (OPTIONAL ADDITIONS TO THE SAUCE: Rind ends of Parmesan or Romano cheese (add to top of ingredients in pot), leftover meat drippings.

6/22/08 Edit: Removed duplicate chile flakes ingredient.

Craig Castille
01-26-2008, 03:19 PM
Well, I bought the Fagor 8qt and 4 qt.

What the hell!

Thanks Rita, I'll give this a whirl pretty soon.

Thanks again to everyone with their 2 cents.

Chris Notarpole
01-29-2008, 04:44 AM
Rita have you made this sauce without the pressure cooker? Why do you use a pressure cooker (better taste? texture? faster cooking times?)?

You speak of a piece of equipment which I have absolutely no experience with.

By the way if you remember, I was the one who asked you for your pizza dough recipe. I am still trying to bribe the kids to let me try one more time!

Jim Babek
03-22-2008, 05:57 AM
Generally pressure cookers cut down on the time it takes to cook. They will also make tougher cuts of meat more tender.

I have several pressure cookers, new and old, and use them on occasion. I would probably use them more but they really scare the hell out of me. When I was a kid my aunt opened the lid too soon and was burned VERY badly. You just need to be careful and you should never try to deep fry in one.

Rita Y
03-22-2008, 06:25 AM
Chris, sorry; I didn't see your post. Am I going to have to come out to Mesa and make that pizza for you and your family? http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif Just DO it! http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Jim, you and your aunt must have the old-style jiggle-top cookers. She might have exerted too much pressure on the handle when opening it. If the lid handle does not turn easily, never force it to twist open. Always remove the lid facing away from you---the contents will continue to boil for a little bit because the pressure takes them to 250°.

There is NO WAY that this could happen on the new generation pressure cookers, which have about 3 safety systems built in.

The Fagor Duo is quite popular and well thought of right now, as well as the Kuhn-Rikons, which have gotten pretty pricy---the WMF cooker is even more!:


A 7L / 8 quart cooker is the most practical size to start out with since you can cook less in it if you'd like. Remember that pressure cookers can only be filled about 2/3 full to allow space for the steam to build up pressure.

This is the one I started with (when it was a lot cheaper!).


You are absolutely correct---NEVER try to deep-fry (broast / pressure-fry) in them. The oil gets too hot and compromises the seals (gasket).


Jim Babek
03-22-2008, 12:45 PM
Rita. Youre right, I have 3 old style cookers which I use. I also have a new style that we got for our wedding 7 years ago. They dont make them anymore and the instructions make no sense at all. So it just sits there.

Rita Y
03-22-2008, 01:34 PM
Jim, if you'll email me privately with the make and model number, let me see if I can find the manual. Maybe I can give you a hand with it.


Tom P
06-17-2008, 08:10 AM
Rita- why the different cooking times and release procedure for electric vs stovetop?

I have a 8qt electric and sometimes the food seems overdone.

Thanks for posting the recipe!


Steve Petrone
06-18-2008, 05:03 PM
Rita, I just found this thread-great looking recipe. Did I miss something? You have crushed and pepper flakes. Are you just using two different types of red peppper? You have to pardon the dumb questions....a few years ago all 'hot peppers were red peppers to me'.

How do you crush your fennel seeds? Mortar and pestle?

Rita Y
06-22-2008, 08:21 AM
Tom, the "quick" pressure release on an electric cooker takes a lot longer than the quick cold-water release on a stovetop model, so I adjusted the cook time to make up for the extra cooking time that will occur during the digital's longer pressure release.

I'm assuming that you have a Russell Hobbs or a Cook's Essential oval digital pressure cooker. They are the same manufacturer. A batch came through a couple or 3 years ago with a faulty thermal fuse that shut down the cooker when it thought it was overheating. This happened mostly when people were using the browning setting. If you've used your browning setting often and successfully, I wouldn't worry about it, but if not, I'd suggest browning your foods in a skillet and then moving them to the cooker. The fuse is in the base and difficult to change. Repair shops won't do it.

A lot of people don't adjust the cooking times to compensate for the longer release times, but I suspect that they might not realize that their food is overcooked...or they might prefer it that way. Falling apart isn't always a good goal, imo.

Here some guidelines that you might find helpful:

- If the recipe calls for NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE, reduce cooking time by 2 minutes to adjust for the longer time it takes for the electric cooker to release pressure.

- If the recipe calls for QUICK-RELEASING THE PRESSURE by setting the cooker under cold running water, ignore this instruction. Instead, subtract 4 minutes from cooking time and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 4 minutes. Then press the quick-release button in very short spurts while averting your face from the steam. If any liquid is ejected from the valve, wait about 30 seconds before proceeding.


Steve, good proof-reading! I'll fix that.

I've become addicted to the Aleppo chiles. It should be 1/4 teaspoon of either the Aleppo OR crushed red pepper. You can increase these to taste. I find the Aleppos a little milder than the crushed.

I use a cleaver 90% more than I use a chef's knife due to a rather long obsessive Chinese cooking phase early in my cooking life. To crush the fennel seeds, I often use the flat butt end of the handle to crush the seeds on my cutting board if there aren't too many.

Another way is to put the seeds into a freezer bag (or old FoodSaver bag) and pound with a hammer or meat pounder.

I have had a mini-mortar for many years and I really like it, but it is pretty much a one-function thing. You don't pound this mortar, but rather use it with a grinding motion:



[See, Chris? I finally "got" it with the links!] http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif


Tom P
06-23-2008, 07:31 AM
Thanks for the tips Rita!

Yes I do have the cooks essentials 8 qt.
I have had no problems with the fuse while browning though.

Can't wait to try your recipe.