Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta is the ultimate Italian comfort food combination your family and friends will love! Slowly braised beef in a red wine-infused sauce and an easy, cheesy hands-off polenta combine to create a dish for perfect stress-free entertaining or Sunday family dinner!
"Absolutely delicious! The meat was extremely tender and the overall dish well-seasoned and hearty. A new go-to for sure!"
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
Is there anything more comforting in the winter than a slowly braised beef pot roast that practically melts in your mouth? When it's an Italian beef roast (Stracotto di Manzo), it's even more special!
Despite the time it takes to do a pot roast in the oven, it's very easy to prepare and do. Most of the time is hands-off, allowing you to do other things. Although you can speed up the process with a pressure cooker, the rich, flavorful result you'll end up with by doing it low and slow in the oven is time well spent.
I've been making this recipe for Italian pot roast for personal chef clients for almost 20 years so this roast recipe is tried and true!
This Italian beef pot roast recipe is:
- Can be adapted to a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker
When making it at home, I pair it with Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta which is also practically hands-off. The combination of the Italian roast and polenta is perfect for easy entertaining or a lovely Sunday family dinner.
What is Stracotto?
Italian Pot Roast, also called Stracotto is slightly different from a traditional pot roast. Stracotto starts with a soffritto base of finely chopped onions, carrots and celery rather than the vegetables being large and chunky like a traditional American-style pot roast.
Also called Stracotto di Manzo, the name translates to "overcooked" and Manzo roughly translates to "beef" or "steer." The braising liquid for Stracotto is more tomatoey and winey than a traditional pot roast.
Which cut of beef is used for Stracotto?
My preference in this Italian beef roast recipe is a chuck roast, however, you can use almost any cut intended for slow-braising such as:
- Sirloin tip
- Boneless beef short ribs
In fact, the tougher the cut the better! Here's a full list from the Certified Angus Beef people.
When cooked slowly and properly, the connective tissue breaks down to tenderize the meat which then adds richness and body to the braising liquid. In the end, you end up with a luxurious, velvety sauce.
Ingredients You'll Need:
FOR THE ROAST:
- Olive oil
- A 4-pound chuck roast
- Salt and black pepper
- Dry red wine
- Beef broth / stock
- Crushed tomatoes
- Fresh rosemary
- Italian seasoning
FOR THE POLENTA:
- Cooking spray
- Chicken broth / stock
- Salt and black pepper
How to make Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta:
- Start with a 4 to 5-pound chuck roast.
- Using butcher's twine, tie the roast. Cut approximately 2 feet of twine, wrap it around the perimeter and tie a knot. (You can also have your butcher do this.)
- Season it well with salt and black pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot and brown it well on both sides.
- Transfer to a plate.
- Next, cook the soffritto of finely chopped onions, carrots and celery.
- Add diced pancetta for additional flavor...
- Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are melty soft!
- Add the garlic, liquid ingredients and herbs and seasonings.
- Place the roast along with any juices from the plate back into the Dutch oven. The roast should be completely submerged. Bring back up to a gentle simmer.
- Next, cover securely. Place aluminum foil or parchment paper over the top of the Dutch oven before putting the cover on to seal and minimize evaporation as much as possible. Some will still occur which is okay as that slow, gentle reduction will produce a rich, wonderful sauce.
- Place the roast in the oven at 350 degrees and let it simmer away for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
- When the roast has about 45 minutes to go, place the polenta in the oven uncovered alongside the roast and let it bake away!
- Stir in butter and the Gorgonzola....
And then! A lovely, slowly braised, fall-apart tender Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)!
A Dutch oven pot roast such as this--because it's so melty tender--is difficult to slice unless you let it chill first. What I do instead of slicing is I simply break it into serving-sized pieces.
Serve the Italian Pot Roast with the Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta for the perfect Italian-inspired comfort food everyone will rave about!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes, you can definitely do that (without the polenta) in your slow cooker. Keep in mind that slow cookers tend to water flavors down. You can do four to six hours (would depend on the size of the roast) on HIGH and eight to ten hours on LOW. If you can, leave the cover off for the last 30-45 minutes so the sauce has a chance to reduce. You could also reduce the amount of broth in the beginning by a cup or so.
Yes, you can, but you’ll probably have to reduce the liquid in this recipe. It will take approximately 60 to 80 minutes in an electric pressure cooker.
Absolutely! In fact, a pot roast gets even better when the flavors have a chance to meld. Best of all, it's much easier to remove the excess fat which congeals at the top when the roast cools and is refrigerated. Simply reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.
What to serve on the side besides polenta:
- Pappardelle (thick, strand pasta)
- Mashed potatoes
- Risotto or other rice
- Cauliflower White Bean Puree
- Celery Root Puree
Also on the side....
- Parmesan Roasted Cabbage Wedges
- Roasted Cauliflower with Black Olive Pangrattato
- Braised Greens with Olives and Lemon
For more great slowly-braised beef recipes, you'll also love:
- Slow Cooker Boneless Beef Short Ribs Bourguignon
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro - Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Beef Braciole (Braciola)
- Cabernet-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cauliflower - Leek Puree
- Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Stout Braised Beef Short Ribs and Colcannon
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Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta
- 4 tablespoons olive oil - divided
- 1 (4-pound) chuck roast - tied
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion - finely chopped
- 2 large carrots - finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery - finely chopped
- 4 ounces pancetta - diced
- 12 cloves garlic - 2 chopped, 10 sliced, divided
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 can (14.5-ounce) beef broth - with enough water added to make 2 cups
- 1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes - preferably a good imported Italian brand
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 large bay leaves
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups chicken broth - or water
- 1 ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 cup polenta - coarse ground
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season the chuck roast liberally with salt and black pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Place chuck roast in Dutch oven and brown well on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, pour off and discard browning fat.
- Refresh oil with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and pancetta. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 7-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add chopped garlic and cook briefly 10-15 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil. Boil 1-2 minutes.
- Add the beef back to the pot along with any accumulated juices.
- Add beef broth, tomatoes, sliced garlic, rosemary, Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
- Place a layer of aluminum foil or parchment paper over the top of the Dutch oven followed by the lid. (You want to minimize evaporation as much as possible.)
- Place in the oven and cook 2 ½ to 3 hours or until meat is extremely tender.
- Place on a serving platter and slice or shred as desired.
- Spray a 2 ½ to 3-quart oven-safe casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Combine chicken broth or water, half-and-half, polenta and salt and black pepper in the prepared casserole dish and stir well.
- Place in the oven uncovered and bake alongside the roast during the last 40-45 minutes of braising the roast. After approximately 30 minutes, stir, add Gorgonzola and butter and stir again. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve polenta with pot roast.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
Fabulous recipe! I made no changes at all to your recipe and followed method exactly as stated. You can’t go wrong with this recipe! Absolutely delicious. 🙂
Hi, Julie, Thanks so much and so happy you love this recipe!!
Fabulous recipe. I cut it in half and used a 2.6-pound roast for just the two of us. I browned everything like your instructions said, but put it in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours. It probably could've gone another 30 or 45 minutes but we were hungry and it smelled so good! It shredded well enough. I skipped the celery because neither of us care for it, and I subbed bacon bits for the pancetta but I'm not sure you could really taste it in the end anyway.
I made pearl couscous with goat cheese for the side and it was delicious! We're delighted to have another roast recipe, and this one so different than meat and potatoes! My husband loves roasts!
Hi, April, Thanks so very much and so happy you enjoyed!! If it comes apart easily then you're most likely good to go. Thanks again!
I have a very dumb question about polenta..... Do you use the tube one or just corn meal? I've never worked with/cooked polenta before.
Hi, Lisa, Thanks so much for your question and it's not dumb at all. It's not the polenta in a tube. That's already cooked and it has stiffened up so you can slice it. That type of polenta is fine sliced and fried or grilled or placed in a casserole. For this recipe, You want to look for something labeled "polenta." Bob's Red Mill sells it and it's labeled as "corn grits" AND "polenta." Thanks again and hope that helps and answers your question.
Hi, I was just wanted to confirm the temperature to cook this. Is it Fahrenheit or degrees? I'm from Australia. 350 degrees is the highest level.
Hi, Victoria, Thanks so much for your question. It would be 350 degrees Fahrenheit or U. S. measurement. Thanks again and hope that helps! I'm not familiar with temperature measurements in Australia.
This is a really good roast recipe! I will make it again and again! It will be in my favorite recipe book.
Hi, Tena, Thanks so much and so happy you enjoyed!
Tanya Ciccarelli says
This was delicious! Don’t skip the Gorgonzola polenta. I did not change anything.
Hi, Tanya, Thanks so very much and so happy you enjoyed! I'm a huge fan of blue/gorgonzola with beef so happy you enjoyed it, too. Thanks again!
Hi! What dry wine do you recommend?
Hi, Jenna, Thanks much for your question. For cooking, I generally use a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon. It's drinkable but not that expensive. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!
Do you have a suggestion for a non-pork substitute for the pancetta? I think it would be divine but my husband didn’t grow up eating pork and really doesn’t like the flavor, so I’m wondering what I could use or how much it would affect the recipe if I just skipped it?
Hi, Jess, Thanks so much for your question. You could substitute a little bit of turkey bacon or leave it out. When I'm cooking for a more budget-conscious client, I will just leave it out. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!
One of THE BEST dinners I have ever prepared. Easy, elegant and perfection. The combination of the beef with the Gorgonzola is to die for. I used a 5-pound roast and made no adjustments to the recipe. So much sauce that I could make a second meal with pasta in a couple of days. Bravo again, Carol!
Hi, Kathleen, Thanks so very much and so happy you loved this recipe! I love having leftover sauce because there are so many different ways to use it. Thanks again!
Can you make this medium rare?
Hi and thanks for your question. No, a chuck roast needs to be braised for a couple of hours to tenderize it. If you cooked a chuck roast to medium rare, you wouldn't be able to chew it.
Lorraine Lauer says
Unfortunately there are no Gorgonzola lovers in my household. Would you recommend a substitute that might have more flavor than a feta or goat cheese may offer. Looking forward to making this recipe because the photo is already making me hungry.
Thank you Carol.
Hi, Lorraine, Thanks so much for your question! Goat cheese would be really good but you might try Parmesan or Asiago. You could also try a sharp white Cheddar. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!
This is my new go-to pot roast recipe. I've made it twice, both times it was incredible and garnered rave reviews. The first time I skipped the pancetta because I didn't have any. Last night I used it. I'd say both ways are definitely worth the calories! I added some dried mushroom powder, but mostly made it as written. For the polenta I used my instant pot just because I'm familiar with doing it that way, not because it is better.
The chuck roasts I can get are closer to 3 pounds, and they worked just fine. I left the veggies/stock/wine quantities as is because they are just so good there is no reason to have less of it.
Hi, Melinda, Thanks so very much and so happy you love it! Love the addition of the mushroom powder! Mushrooms would be great in this recipe as an addition but my husband is allergic so I can't use them very much. Thanks again!!