Italian Pot Roast

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A few weeks ago my mother and I attended a cooking demonstration by our local celebrity Italian chef, the delightful Biba Caggiano. We Sacramentans are proud to call Biba our own; she has a fabulous restaurant, is the author of several cookbooks, and for a while hosted her own cooking show on the Discovery Channel.

One of the recipes Biba demonstrated during our evening with her was her “Stracotto di Manzo alla Fiorentina” or “The Braised Beef of Florence”. Biba, in her typical down-to-earth manner called it “nothing more than a glorified pot roast”.

It’s a simple and delicious recipe, much like our standard pot roast but with a soffritto base, the addition of tomatoes, and a whole bottle of wine.

Italian Pot Roast Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound rump or chuck beef roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 3 cups medium-bodied Italian red wine (we used a Barbera)
  • 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, put through a food mill to remove the seeds

Method

1 Trim some of the fat from the meat. Pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, shimmering but not smoking, add the roast and cook, turning it a few times, until it is nicely browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes.

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Transfer the meat to a platter.

2 Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are golden brown and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, 10-12 minutes.

Add the garlic, parsley, and sage, and stir until the herbs are lightly colored and fragrant, about 1 minute.

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Add 1 cup of the wine and stir quickly, lifting up the richly browned caramelized vegetables that stick to the bottom of the pan. When the wine is almost all evaporated and thickly coats the vegetables, return the meat to the pan and turn it over a few times to coat it with the savory base.

3 Raise the heat to high, adding the remaining wine, the bay leaf, and the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, turning and basting the meat every half hour or so, until the meat is very tender and flakes away when pierced with a fork, 3-4 hours.

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Turn off the heat and let the roast sit in its juices for an hour. (You can also put the pot into a 300°F oven and turn the roast every hour.)

4 Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board, covered loosely with aluminum foil. If the sauce is too thin, bring it to a fast boil and reduce it until it has a medium-thick consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5 Cut the meat into thick slices (it will probably fall apart), and place on warm serving dishes. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve hot. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

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Showing 4 of 30 Comments

  • joe

    I added some cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Very good if you like hot and spicy

  • Kathleen Bach

    Best pot roast ever, Cooked in the oven for 2 1/4 hours and played 18 holed of golf. Perfect fall dinner. Used all the fresh herbs from the garden before first freeze in Spring green wi. Mashed potatoes a great go with!

  • John Valentine

    This is a great traditional recipe. To carry the tradition one step further, many Italians serve the meat atop polenta that has been stirred frequently while cooking for at least 45 minutes. The rich meat and sauce are the perfect compliments to the simple polenta. Now that’s Italian!

  • Deb M.

    Thank you for the recipe. It turned out well, if a little on the dry side. Strangely enough, it was still tender even though it was a little dry. I thought the wine would be overpowering because that’s all I could smell the whole time it cooked, but it was okay after reducing the sauce by half. I’m glad you wrote in cup measurements for the vegetables; it took 5 stalks of celery to equal one cup–not one stalk. IMO, a half cup of oil was excessive. I just used enough to cover the bottom of the pot (1/4 cup or less). In the end, I still needed to skim off quite a bit of oil as the sauce reduced.

    I used dried Italian seasoning and much more garlic than the recipe stated, and I added a jar of organic marinated mushrooms. I also used a can of organic diced tomatoes (nothing weird added) because that’s all I had on hand (I didn’t run them through a food mill). I used a bottle of Frey organic red table wine which was too strong for me to drink straight up (I’m not much of a drinker). I was trying to find a pot roast recipe which used a lot of wine so that it didn’t go to waste. This one sounded good, and it was. Thanks again. :)

  • Kimberly

    I made this dish for my father-in-law’s birthday back in March and for my husband’s aunt and uncle as a thank you for inviting us up for Christmas. It made a really delicious Christmas Eve dinner. My father-in-law loved it too. We served it with creamy, mascarpone and parmesan mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans.

    If you’re looking for something to impress your dinner guests, I’d definitely recommend this. (Also, I chose to use the oven method rather than slow cooking on the stove top. I’ve never had any luck with getting the temperature right on the stove top.)

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