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, hands-off polenta combine to create a dish for perfect stress-free entertaining!
Is there anything more comforting in the winter than a slowly braised pot roast that nearly melts in your mouth?
One of the most popular ways to do pot roast now doesn’t involve braising at all but instead involves a pressure cooker. Few things could hurt my heart more.
Now, I have nothing against pressure cookers; I use one frequently in my personal chef business for certain things. Small cuts of meat for things like stews work fine in a pressure cooker. However, when you start doing larger cuts of meat like a roast or even short ribs, that’s when my heart starts to hurt.
Despite the time it takes to do a proper pot roast, it’s very easy to prepare. Most of the time it takes is hands-off, allowing you to do other things. The rich result you’ll end up with by doing it low and slow in the oven is time well spent.
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 is a chuck roast, however, you can use almost any cut intended for slow-braising such as:
- Sirloin tip
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.
How to make Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta:
- Start with a 4 to 5-pound chuck roast 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 the herbs and seasonings and 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 to 2 ½ 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 pot roast such as this–because it’s so melty tender–it’s 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! Perfect Italian-inspired comfort food everyone will rave about!
What to serve besides polenta:
- Pappardelle (thick, strand pasta)
- Mashed potatoes
- Risotto or other rice
- Cauliflower White Bean Puree
- Celery Root Puree
And 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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- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 (4-pound) chuck roast
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 12 cloves of 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
- 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
- ROAST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season 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 to 2 ½ hours or until meat is extremely tender.
- Place on a serving platter and slice or shred as desired.
- POLENTA: 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.
MAKE AHEAD: The roast can be prepared 2 days ahead. Reheat in the oven until heated through.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 665Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 1261mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 22g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.