Rigatoni with Tomatoes and Pancetta
Why this recipe works: Cured pork, bolstered by fragrant fennel seeds, doused in a rich tomato sauce with a hint of chile, and served over perfectly al dente pasta, is a southern Italian classic. Inspired by our Creamy Spring Vegetable Linguine, we set out to create a heartier, more robust pasta meal but with the same level of ease. We rendered the fat from some chopped pancetta using the Instant Pot’s sauté function, and used it to soften onion and garlic, imbuing the aromatics with meaty saltiness. Combining fennel and red pepper flakes with the pancetta evoked a spicy Italian sausage but involved just a fraction of the meat, and anchovy fillets added a subtle umami touch. After sweating the aromatics, it was simply a matter of cooking the pasta, tomatoes, and just the right amount of liquid under pressure to ensure our pasta cooked evenly while still maintaining the perfect level of toothsome tenderness. Bacon can be used in place of the pancetta. Do not substitute other pasta shapes in this dish, as they require different liquid amounts and will not work in this recipe. To crack fennel, place the seeds on a cutting board and rock the bottom edge of a skillet over them until they crack. The sauce will look thin at first but will thicken as it sits in step 4.
Servings Prep Time
4-6servings 10minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4-6servings 10minutes
Cook Time
  • 4oz pancettachopped fine
  • 1 onionchopped fine
  • 1/4tsp table salt
  • 3 garlic clovesminced
  • 2 anchovy filletsrinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • 2tsp fennel seedslightly cracked
  • 1/4tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes28 ounce
  • 2cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2cups Water
  • 1lb rigatoni
  • 1/4cup grated Pecorino Romano cheeseplus extra for serving
  • 2tbsp minced fresh parsley
  1. Using highest sauté function, cook pancetta in Instant Pot, stirring often, until browned and fat is well rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel–lined plate; set aside for serving.
  2. Add onion and salt to fat left in pot and cook, using highest sauté function, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, anchovies, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, broth, and water, scraping up any browned bits, then stir in pasta.
  3. Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select Pressure Cook function on High and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
  4. Stir in Pecorino and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and let sit until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and reserved pancetta. Serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.
Recipe Notes

*Pressure Cook and Manual buttons are interchangeable