Oh my gaasshhhhh, Instant Pot, you are just TOO DANG good to be true. A tough cut of meat that would normally take hours to become tender and juicy in the oven takes literally thirty minutes in the Instant Pot, it becomes fall apart tender, and it cooks into the sauce, leaving you with the most thick, unctuous, richly flavored ragu that you’ve ever encountered in YO LIFE.
I’m telling you guys, this is my “spaghetti” go to from now on. I say spaghetti with quotes because to me, when I think of spaghetti, I think of pasta with red sauce in all forms. I know, the legit Italians out there are shaking their heads at me right now – forgive my unlegitness!
Real talk though, you guys: this sauce – it is pasta heaven.
Here’s how this works:
- Cut your chuck roast into large, fist sized chunks and brown in your Instant Pot on the saute setting
- Remove the meat, add some onions, garlic, canned crushed tomatoes, and some seasonings, stir all that together, and add your meat back in
- Seal the lid and cook on manual high pressure for thirty minutes with a ten minute natural release
- Remove the beef and shred it while your sauce simmers down for about 15 minutes
- Add your beef back in, throw a cornstarch slurry in there to make it extra rich and thick, and YOU DONE
Feel free to serve over any number of delicious bases – pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, or anything else that will be a vessel to soak up and be coated by the most delicious ragu on tha planet. My fave base is pasta, obviously. Because…pasta. But if you prefer something else, go for it, gurl – you do you. If you’re gluten free or trying to be low carb, a bed of cauliflower rice or a pile of zoodles would be delicious under a big ladle of this beef ragu.
*Mouth currently watering just imagining all these delicious options*
So…let’s talk about the major un-legit Italian thing in this recipe, i.e. the cornstarch. I’ve already mentioned above that I am far from a legit Italian cook – I like Italian flavors, but I also just like things to taste good and be easy…meaning that instead of letting this sauce cook down and thicken on its own, which would take more time, I cheat and use an easy step that is cornstarch. And, let me just say, it ends in a DANG good sauce.
Normally, on the stove top, this sauce would simmer down and thicken/reduce on its own as it cooks. However, the Instant Pot doesn’t really let that happen. The Instant Pot leaves very, very little ability to reduce sauces when you have the lid on and sealed during the pressure cooking process. If you had the lid off and just had the pot on the saute setting, it would behave just like any other stove top cooking method. But the pressure cooking itself lends for very little liquid reduction. Because of this, our sauce is still pretty thin once our pressure cooking step is completed. The beef is perfect and tender, but the sauce needs to be thickened up a little bit.
So we do two things: one legit and one not so legit. The first thing we do is turn on the saute setting and let the sauce cook down on its own for about 15 minutes. Not only does this thicken it a bit, it also deepens the flavor of the sauce. Which we are fans of. The second thing we do is add a few tablespoons of cornstarch slurry to make things even thicker, richer, and more absurdly and wrongly satisfying.
Now – this cornstarch step is totally up to you. The 15 minute cook down will leave you with a good sauce consistency, but I like my ragu sauces to be nice and supa thick. Here’s what I’d do if I were you. I’d start with just the 15 minute simmer, stir your shredded beef back in, and see what you think about the consistency. If you want it thicker, I’d add one tablespoon of cornstarch slurry and see what your thoughts are on that. If you’re like me and like your ragus thick and richly coating your noodles, throw another tablespoon of cornstarch slurry in there. The two tablespoon amount was my fave option, and I happily devoured it daily until all the leftovers were gone. Pasta heaven, people 💃🏻.
I hope you have a fantastic Wednesday!Print
Instant Pot Beef Ragu
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 10 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- 1.5 – 2 pounds beef chuck roast
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- A few pinches of red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (amount may very depending on how thick you want your sauce)
- Grated parmesan and chopped basil (optional toppings)
- Turn your Instant Pot on the saute setting – high – and cut your chuck roast into large chunks (about the size of your fist). Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper on all sides, and add some olive oil to the Instant Pot
- When hot, add your beef and sear on all sides, adding more oil if the pot gets too dry
- Remove the beef to a plate and add your onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper into the Instant Pot. Stir to combine, and add your beef back into the sauce
- Close the lid, seal the vent, and cook on manual high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before quick releasing the rest
- Remove the beef chunks to a cutting board, and switch the Instant Pot to the saute setting on high. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, shred your beef into small, bite sized pieces using two forks
- When the fifteen minutes are up, add your shredded beef back into the Instant Pot and, in a separate small bowl, make a slurry with your cornstarch and a few splashes of water (enough to make it a pourable liquid)
- Stir your slurry into the sauce and let it thicken – it shouldn’t take long, no more than a minute
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve! I like it over pasta, but you could serve it over rice, mashed potatoes, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, etc…
The thickness here will be up to your preference. I like my ragu sauces to be pretty thick, so I add both tablespoons of cornstarch. I would start by just simmering the sauce down for 15 minutes, adding your shredded beef, and seeing what you think of the consistency. If you want it thicker, go ahead and stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch slurry and let it cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute. If you want it even thicker, add the second tablespoon of cornstarch slurry. I preferred mine with both tablespoons – I thought that was the perfect consistency!
I didn’t measure exact serving sizes with this recipe, but it was plenty to coat 1 pound of fettuccine pasta.
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy Instant Pot recipes? Check these out: