Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
I’ve worked pretty hard to perfect my spaghetti and meatball recipe. I have been toying around with several different delicious spaghetti sauce recipes for a long time, most of which were perfect for spaghetti bolognese, but weren’t quite what I was looking for in a spaghetti and meatball recipe. Then I started using Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce recipe for my spaghetti and meatballs and with the first bite, golden light shone all around and a heavenly chorus sang its sweet refrains (I mean, that’s a slight exaggeration…kind of). This recipe simply can’t be beat in terms of simplicity and flavor. The onion imparts all sorts of flavor but doesn’t muddy up the sauce since you take it out at the end of cooking and the butter adds such a luxurious creaminess. I cook it up in batches and freeze it in pizza-portioned ziploc baggies for some darn good pizza sauce and it’s the best base for spaghetti and meatballs because it isn’t busy and allows the meatballs to take center stage. Seriously, if you don’t have this recipe in your lives, get on it immediately: http://www.thekitchn.com/marcella-hazans-amazing-4ingre-144538. I’ll wait…Okay, now that you’ve discovered what tomatoes, butter, and onions can do when combined in simple perfection, now we can move on. So I love my spaghetti and meatballs. I cook my meatballs in the oven at the same time of cooking my sauce on the stove so it comes together pretty quickly and I can get it on the table during a weeknight without too much hassle. But I’m a busy mom, so I’ve been looking for an even simpler method, so I experimented with my cooking my favorite spaghetti recipe in my Instant Pot. And I have to tell you, it did not disappoint. So, here’s how I put it all together.
Turn on your Instapot to the sauté setting and allow it to heat up.
Mince some parsley up pretty fine. A tablespoon or so should do it. Put it into a bowl.
Slice an onion in half and get out your cheese grater. Grate a couple tablespoons of onion into a bowl. Set aside the rest of the onion for the sauce.
Add a tsp of dijon mustard, a tsp of salt, a bit of cracked black pepper and an egg.
Add your ground beef (don’t use lean ground beef) to the bowl and mix it up, being careful not to over-mix. Then sprinkle some bread crumbs over the top just to keep the meatballs from being too runny and mix that in as well. This recipe for meatballs is based on my go-to hamburger recipe from Jamie Oliver, which I highly recommend: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/a-cracking-burger/
FYI: Now is a good time to start heating up a pot of water on the stove for your spaghetti (or before this if you have slow burners).
Add a scant amount of olive oil to the bottom of the pot (just enough to keep the meatballs from sticking). Form your meat into meatballs and add to the pot.
Let them cook undisturbed for 5-7 minutes. Once browned on the bottom, carefully turn (a slotted turner or metal tongs work well for this). Brown for bit longer. Once browned, remove meatballs and drain off excess fat.
If you have a lot of browned bits on the bottom of the pot, add a couple tablespoons of water and cook on the saute setting. Scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. The water and heat will help it release easily. Add a 28-ounce can of pureed tomatoes, your meatballs, your leftover sliced onion, 1 tsp of salt, and 5 tbs of butter.
Note: the original recipe calls for whole, canned tomatoes but this doesn’t work very well with the meatball sauce because you can’t break up the tomatoes without destroying your meatballs, so use puree.
Turn your instapot to the meat/stew setting and choose the pressure cook setting. Cook for 20 minutes.
While your sauce cooks, cook your noodles. Wait for your water to boil then add a couple of tablespoons of salt to it (it seems like a lot, but Mario Batali says your water should be as salty as the ocean). I cook up a whole box or more of spaghetti for my crew so I can count on some leftovers. I am very picky about my noodles being exactly al dente, so I don’t think I could ever throw them in the instant pot and cook them alongside the meatballs. This might be possible, but goes against my control freak nature, so I just cook them separately. Cook your noodles until just al dente (or still have a little bite to them, and before they get all mushy inside) and take them out and put into a bowl. You can add a little fat (butter or olive oil) to keep them from getting all stuck together. Not too much, though, or your sauce will slide right off your noodles.
Once your instant pot is done, you can wait about five minutes or so and then use the quick release option to release your steam. Remove the onion and discard (or feed to your chickens that you should totally have because they’re awesome. They’ll thank you with a happy chicken dance…probably). Taste your sauce and add a bit of salt to taste.
Serve your sauce over your spaghetti, grate parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy!