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Italian Pot Roast

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Italian Pot Roast, or Stracotto, is a rich and hearty dish that features tender beef slow-cooked with aromatic vegetables, herbs, and a robust tomato and wine sauce. This classic Italian recipe is perfect for a comforting family dinner or a special occasion. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of making Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto), provide helpful cooking notes, and offer variations to suit different tastes.

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Ingredients

  • 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (such as Chianti)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Beef

  1. Season the Beef:
    • Pat the beef chuck roast dry with paper towels. Season all sides generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear the Beef:
    • In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef chuck roast and sear on all sides until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

Step 2: Cook the Vegetables

  1. Sauté the Vegetables:
    • In the same pot, add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown.
  2. Add Garlic:
    • Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

Step 3: Deglaze and Build the Sauce

  1. Deglaze with Wine:
    • Pour in the dry red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by half.
  2. Add Remaining Ingredients:
    • Stir in the beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well to combine.

Step 4: Slow Cook the Beef

  1. Return Beef to Pot:
    • Return the seared beef chuck roast to the pot, nestling it into the vegetable mixture. Ensure the beef is partially submerged in the liquid.
  2. Simmer:
    • Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender and easily shreds with a fork. Alternatively, you can cook it in a preheated oven at 300°F (150°C) for the same amount of time.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Remove and Rest:
    • Remove the beef from the pot and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing or shredding.
  2. Thicken Sauce:
    • If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can simmer the remaining liquid over medium heat until it reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Garnish and Serve:
    • Serve the Italian Pot Roast hot, garnished with chopped fresh parsley. This dish pairs wonderfully with mashed potatoes, polenta, or a crusty loaf of bread.

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Searing the Beef: Searing the beef before slow cooking adds depth of flavor and helps lock in the juices.
  • Wine: Use a good quality dry red wine, such as Chianti, for the best flavor. The alcohol will cook off, leaving a rich and robust flavor.

Variations:

  • Vegetable Additions:
    • Add mushrooms or bell peppers to the vegetable mixture for added flavor and texture.
  • Spicy Pot Roast:
    • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a chopped chili pepper to the sauce for a spicy kick.
  • Herb Variation:
    • Use fresh herbs instead of dried for a more vibrant flavor. Add them during the last hour of cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can transfer the seared beef and sautéed vegetables to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours, until the beef is tender.

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2. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftover pot roast in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving.

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3. Can I freeze this dish?

Yes, you can freeze the cooked pot roast. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

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4. What can I serve with Italian Pot Roast?

This dish pairs well with mashed potatoes, polenta, pasta, or a crusty loaf of bread. A fresh green salad or steamed vegetables also make great side dishes.

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5. Can I use a different cut of beef?

Yes, you can use other cuts of beef suitable for slow cooking, such as brisket or bottom round.

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Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) is a hearty and flavorful dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With its tender beef, aromatic vegetables, and rich tomato and wine sauce, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. Whether you’re making it for a special dinner or a comforting meal, this dish is simple to prepare and full of delicious flavors. Give this Italian Pot Roast recipe a try and enjoy a comforting and delightful meal. Happy cooking!