I love a good red sauce. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m obsessed with red sauce. There’s nothing better than spaghetti covered in red sauce, though a good mostaccioli ranks high up there (Cossetta’s mostaccioli is heaven). A good red sauce has some spice, a touch of heat, and a deep flavor, all aided by a long slow cook and, in the case of Cossetta’s red sauce, pork fat, or some other porky product. A red sauce cooks for hours on the stove, but I didn’t have hours to wait so I cheated and used a pressure cooker. Instead of waiting six hours or more, I had Instant Pot Quick Red Sauce on the table in under 30 minutes.
Slow cooking intensifies flavor, thickens sauces, and turns tomatoes into magic. The pressure cooker intensifies flavor in a fraction of the time, but it often needs a little extra help in the flavor department. I use beef bouillon to deepen the flavor and give some added umami (umami, or “pleasant savory taste,” is the fifth taste, found in tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, and fish sauce). You could also add some anchovy paste or a Parmesan rind, other umami boosters. Instead of pork fat, I use Genoa salami for the meaty component, and it’s good. It doesn’t make it taste like a salami sauce, though no complaints if it did. Instead, it aids in deepening the flavor and adding some porkiness to make the sauce rich and luscious.
Right before cooking, I top the sauce with a 6-ounce can of tomato paste, the whole thing! I add the tomato paste on top without mixing it into the sauce because the tomato paste thickens the sauce, and this combined with the sugar in the concentrated tomatoes can scorch the pot. I use the entire can because I’m lazy. Tomato paste is concentrated so many recipes call for 1-2 tablespoons, and then the leftover tomato paste sits in the fridge, and mine usually goes bad and gets tossed before I make another recipe that calls for 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste. It’s a vicious cycle, one I didn’t feel like repeating, so the first time I made Quick Red Sauce, I decided to chuck the entire can into the sauce and pray for a good outcome. It helps to use a good tomato paste, one that’s not too tinny or acidic. The tomato paste thickens the sauce considerably, but feel free to add less tomato paste if you want a thinner, less concentrated sauce.
I’ve made Quick Red Sauce using my pressure cooker but this was the first time trying the recipe in the Instant Pot. It came out great. The most important thing to remember is to not stir the tomato paste into the sauce to prevent scorching. Other than that, it’s a simple recipe that turns canned tomatoes into a thick, luscious, and flavorful sauce.
Instant Pot Red Sauce doesn’t taste as magical as a true slow-cooked red sauce but when you compare 10 minutes under pressure to 6 hours, I’d say it’s pretty magical, too. This timesaver red sauce tastes slow-cooked, and it’s economical, kid-approved, and tasty – fugeddaboudit, competition over.