Pressure Cooking for Dummies – Spaghetti Bolognaise for the time poor!

Seriously – I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t like bog…okay for you fancy readers out there; spaghetti bolognaise! 😆   My daughters were raised on spag bog.  Not a week went by when I didn’t cook it.  Back then, I used to add grated carrot and finely sliced mushrooms as well to get some well hidden vegetables into their diets!  Over the last two decades my bog recipe has evolved beyond recognition.  There was the time when it was low on meat and heavy on tomato!  Then there was the period when it was full of roughage for the kids.  Then there was the veal and pork mince mixture.  Nowadays, it’s got more meat, but only veal, it’s still heavy on the tomatoes and to give it depth I saute some spec or prosciutto at the beginning of the cooking process.  But the biggest change that I have made so far has been to change the cooking method from the long slow stove top cook method to a quick and easy pressure cooking method.


Finely chop a handful of spec or prosciutto..whatever takes your fancy, is cheapest or you can get hold of easiest.

Chop 2 onions and no less than 2-3 garlic cloves…I’ll be honest, I like my garlic and never put in less than 6 cloves.

Put the spec/prosciutto in pan and then gently heat the pan to saute it.  You want to render out some of the fat so you don’t have to add any oil.  There’s plenty of oil in the spec/prosciutto so don’t start this by heating some olive oil – you don’t need it!  Trust me.

Once you’ve rendered some of the fat off the spec/prosciutto add the onions and garlic.  Keep the heat up high enough so that the onions are cooking but not burning.  Only add oil if the pan gets dry. 

Add your meat and continue to cook until browned thoroughly.  Here’s where we have the discussion about what kind of meat…and my school of thought is go for what you can afford, what you like…what ever floats your boat.  I love the flavour of the pork/veal mix but I find it a very oily mixture and only cook it occasionally.  I like to use veal and bump up the flavour with the spec/prosciutto.  If you want to use heartsmart beef mince from your butcher, then go for your life.  If the price of  meat is your concern, then find what you can afford and go for your life.  Seriously, no matter what meat you use, spag bog tastes brilliant anyway!  You’ll need a kilo of meat.

Next, you add canned tomato and bottled passata.  Now I cheat…I buy cans of tomato chunks because I don’t want to fuss around breaking up the tomatoes.  I also go to an Italian grocer and buy my canned tomatoes by the carton 12.  It’s a cheaper option.  I do the same with the bottled passata.  I do make and bottle my own tomato passata, but I haven’t got any left in my pantry.  Don’t have a cow at the amount of tomato and passata I use because I firstly like a very thick tomato sauce in my bog but I also freeze half of it for another meal.  My big admission here, is that after this photo was taken I added this AND a third bottle of passata. 

Next, I put a simmer mat over the flame.  If you cook with a pressure cooker, it’s very important to use a simmer mat so that direct heat does not burn any one section of your food.  You WILL burn your food without a simmer mat.  They’re about $25 but an investment you must have for successful pressure cooking.

Put your pressure cooker pot back on the flame on top of the simmer mat and turn the flame up high.  Add some dried oregano.  Normally I would use dried oregano from my own garden, but my bush can’t keep up with the amount I’ve been using this summer.  So I bought some at my trust Italian grocer.

Put the lid on your pressure cooker.  Make sure that the pressure valve is working fine and that the rubber seal is correctly inserted into the lid…If you have an old pressure cooker with a rattle knob on the top of the lid, make sure that the pressure release pipe is clean and clear and that the rubber seal is in place correctly.  This pressure cooker is my newest one.  It’s the latest European technology and doesn’t have a rattler knob like my smaller one.  Whatever type you use, just take normal common-sense precautions…cooking with a pressure cooker isn’t rocket science but there are some safety precautions that you should take.  Once your pressure cooker has reached the appropriate pressure, turn the flame down so that a consistent pressure is held.  In the case of my old ‘rattler’, when the rattle knob starts to rock, I then turn the flame down to keep the knob rattling very gently and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  In the case of this one, the black knob on the lid will rise until a first red line appears (low pressure) and then a second red line appears (high pressure).  Once the high pressure is reached I turn the flame down low so that the first red line is clearly visible and cook for 15-20 minutes keeping the pressure steady.

Don’t EVER EVER EVER remove the lid without depressurising the cooker first.  If you manage to get the lid open (which should be darn difficult to do)  before it depressurises then prepare for an explosion of  BLOODY HOT food as it’s shot out, with a great deal of pressure, all over you, the walls, the floor and your stove.  Preferably, leave your pressure cooker to naturally depressurise.  That means, turn the heat off and leave it alone.  For the older types,after it’s been left alone to depressurise, you should be able to tip the rocker knob on its side with no steam/pressure coming out.  Only then should you be able to remove the lid with ease.  For this pressure cooker in the pic, the black knob on the top will be in the position that you see now.  When the pressure cooker is full of pressure the black knob comes up and the two red lines are visible.  If the lid does not turn easily, then wait a little longer.  The lid on ANY pressure cooker should slide of easily after the pressure is released.   I use the depressurising period to boil my pasta.  Once you open your pressure cooker, give the sauce a good stir, add a large handful of freshly chopped basil and serve.


So dear readers, what’s your favourite bolognaise recipe?  How do you do it best?

Download my recipe here


6 thoughts on “Pressure Cooking for Dummies – Spaghetti Bolognaise for the time poor!

  1. Hi Steve,
    i’ve never cooked on ceramic electric before but i’d be cautious and use a diffuser simply on the basis that the highest quality pressure cookers are from Europe; when i say the highest quality i mean the best technology which includes materials. The quality of the base will make a difference in terms of whether or not there are hot spots in your pressure cooker. Perhaps have a trial run (without using the most expensive meat cuts/ingredients in case of burning) to see how it goes. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you. Look for a book on pressure cooking by Aussie Susanne Gibbs; it’s brilliant.

  2. Suzi – I have a new pressure cooker. Purchased in UK, but made in China! My hob is a ceramic electric one. Should I use a diffuser too, or will my type of hob be OK?

    Thanks for posting your recipe. I’ll be trying your version as a basis but will probably use a few modiifcations of my own and let you know how it went!

  3. Hi Paula,
    I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. My biggest tip for pressure cooking is to use a diffuser plate. and if you’re cooking with gas make sure the flame doesn’t lick the up to the outside edges of the pot. I’m looking forward to hearing how you went:)

  4. Just purchased a pressure cooker and this will be the first time iv’e ever used one so thought your spag bol would be a good recipe to start with will let you know how i get on wish me luck !

  5. Helooooooo Jonathon!!! do share your “ye old method”…everyone’s always got some slight (or major) difference in their bog recipes that make them fabulous. AND i’m always up for trying a new method. xxx Su

  6. WOW! I was just going to make my ye old method tonite but I am certainly not now! I dont have a pressure cooker but it is certainly going on the wish list…. I cant wait to report back!

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