One of my all-time favorite foods to cook for cold, dreary nights is braised meat—slow-simmered until it is meltingly tender and has perfumed the whole house with savory aromas. I usually reserve that kind of cooking for the weekend since it takes hours, but thanks to the Instant Pot
, I can eat this way even on a busy weeknight. And that’s a great thing because we all deserve to eat this way whenever we want to (or, in my case, need to).
The meat of choice in this recipe is chuck roast. It’s reliably rich and reasonably fatty, a perfect contender for braising. When cut into large chunks, seared, and cooked under pressure, it takes only 30 minutes to reach perfect fork-tender doneness—not hours as it would in the oven or on the stovetop. Once it’s done, I pull it into large shreds and toss the meat and sauce with pasta. Pappardelle is my noodle of choice because the broad noodles soak up the sauce beautifully, but you could also use tagliatelle or fettuccine. The meaty sauce is equally good over a bed of mashed potatoes or polenta if you’re not in a pasta mood—but you might want to thicken it a bit if serving that way.
It’s worth noting that a few special touches give the sauce added oomph with barely any added effort. First, along with onion and garlic, some sliced fennel bulb goes into the pot, where, through the magic of pressure cooking, it goes from super crunchy to buttery soft and yielding with a light whiff of anise. And a canned chipotle chile goes in as well, where it disintegrates while adding a hint of smoke and heat.
So when nothing but a big plate of meaty pasta will do—and your heart demands tender braised meat, not ground meat (which is also delicious but a totally different experience)—pull out the pressure cooker. In just about an hour, you can be diving into this big bowl of soul-satisfying goodness.