Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta

4.65 from 212 votes
3 hours
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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 was well-seasoned and hearty. A new go-to for sure!”

Photo of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta on oval platter with meat fork on gray napkin.

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 pot roast (Stracotto di Manzo), it’s even more special!

Despite the time it takes to prepare and cook a pot roast such as Stracotto in the oven, it’s very easy. Most of the time for this Italian pot roast recipe 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 (Stracotto) for personal chef clients for almost 23 years, so this roast recipe is tried and true!

This Italian beef pot roast recipe:

  • Is make-ahead. In fact, it’s often better the next day.
  • Can be adapted to a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker.
  • Freezer-friendly.

When making it at home, I pair it with Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta, which is also practically hands-off. The Italian pot roast and polenta combination is perfect for entertaining or a lovely Sunday family dinner.

What is Stracotto?

Italian Pot Roast, also called Stracotto, differs slightly from a traditional pot roast.  A stracotto recipe starts with a soffritto base of finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery rather than large and chunky vegetables 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 di Manzo?

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:

  • Brisket
  • Eye-of-round
  • Rump
  • 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 Stracotto di Manzo:

FOR THE ROAST:

  • Olive oil
  • A 4-pound chuck roast
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Pancetta
  • Garlic
  • Dry red wine
  • Beef broth / stock
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Italian seasoning

FOR THE POLENTA:

  • Cooking spray
  • Chicken broth / stock
  • Half-and-half
  • Polenta
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Gorgonzola or another cheese you prefer
  • Butter

How to make Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta:

  • Start with a 4-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.)
Photo of uncooked chuck roast on white cutting board.
  • 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.
Photo of chuck roast in red Dutch oven after being browned on both sides.
  • Next, cook the soffritto of finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery.
  • Add diced pancetta for additional flavor…
Photo of soffritto on wood cutting board along with rosemary and pancetta.
  • Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are melty soft!
Photo of aromatics and pancetta in red Dutch oven after being browned and cooked.
  • Add the garlic, liquid ingredients, herbs, and seasonings.
  • Place the roast and any juices from the plate back into the Dutch oven.  The roast should be completely submerged.  Bring it 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 1/2 to 3 hours.
Photo of braising liquid and vegetables for pot roast in red Dutch oven.
  • 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….
Photo of Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta in white baking dish.

And then!  A lovely, slowly braised, fall-apart tender Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)!

Photo of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) in red Dutch oven after being braised.

Chef Tip:

  • Because the Stracotto is so melty tender, a Dutch oven pot roast such as this Italian pot roast is difficult to slice unless you let it chill first. Instead of slicing the pot roast, I break it into serving-sized pieces.
Photo of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) on oval platter.

If the sauce is thinner than you like:

  • Combine 2 tablespoons softened butter with 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
  • Remove 3 to 4 tablespoons of the hot braising liquid from the Dutch oven and add it to the butter and flour. Stir until you have a thick paste slurry.
  • Add the slurry (flour, butter and liquid mixture) to the Dutch oven and gently stir it in.
  • Bring the roast to a gentle simmer on your cooktop and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened. (Do not let it boil.) You can also move the roast to a platter to rest when doing this step. Cover to keep warm.
Close-up photo of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) on platter with meat fork.

Serve the Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) with the Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta for the perfect Italian-inspired comfort food everyone will rave about!

Photo of one serving of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta in white bowl on gray napkin.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make this Italian roast recipe in the slow cooker?

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 (depending on the roast size) on HIGH and eight to ten hours on LOW. If you can, leave the cover off for the last 30 to 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.

Can I make a pot roast recipe in an electric pressure cooker?

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.

Can pot roast be made in advance?

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.

Photo of Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta in white bowl.

What to serve with Italian Pot Roast besides polenta:

Also on the side….

For more great slowly-braised beef recipes, you’ll also love:

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Italian Pot Roast (Straccato) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta - Close-up overhead shot of pot roast on oval platter.

Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) and Oven-Baked Gorgonzola Polenta

4.65 from 212 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
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 or Sunday family dinner!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Beef
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 588 kcal

Ingredients
  

Roast

  • 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
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Polenta

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups chicken broth - or water
  • 1 1/2 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

Instructions
 

Roast

  • 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 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is extremely tender.
  • Place on a serving platter and slice or shred as desired.

Polenta

  • Spray a 2 1/2 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.

Recipe Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:
  • If you’re not a blue cheese/Gorgonzola fan, try Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Cheddar or Gruyere.
  • If you prefer not to use alcohol, substitute 1 cup of pomegranate juice or grape juice for the wine and use an extra cup of beef broth. You may need to adjust the acidity slightly at the end–perhaps with a splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (trace alcohol if any).
  • Substitute turkey bacon for the pancetta if you don’t consume pork.
TIPS:
  • Because the roast will be difficult to slice, break it into pieces as shown or shred.  If you prefer sliced and have made it ahead, it can be easily sliced if it’s cold.
  • If the sauce is thinner than you prefer and want to thicken it:
    • Combine 2 tablespoons softened butter with 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
    • Remove 3 to 4 tablespoons of the hot braising liquid from the Dutch oven and add it to the butter and flour. Stir until you have a thick paste slurry.
    • Add the slurry (flour, butter and liquid mixture) to the Dutch oven and gently stir it in.
    • Bring the roast to a gentle simmer on your cooktop and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened. (Do not let it boil.) You can also move the roast to a platter to rest when doing this step. Cover to keep warm.
SLOW-COOKER:
  • Keep in mind that slow cookers tend to water flavors down. You can do 4-6 hours (depending on the roast size) on HIGH and 8-10 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 broth by a cup or so in the beginning.
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER/INSTANT POT:
  • Will take approximately 60 to 80 minutes in an electric pressure cooker.
MAKE AHEAD:
  • The roast can be prepared 2 days ahead. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:
  • The roast is freezer-friendly.  Place in an airtight container and freeze up to 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 588kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 750mg | Potassium: 737mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3409IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 184mg | Iron: 3mg

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.

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4.65 from 212 votes (184 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




176 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing…amazing…amazing! My kids all turned up there noses and were determined not to like what I put on their plate. But, when the 8 yr old said ‘Mum, this is gold’, the 10 and 12 yr olds dug in and quickly changed their minds! I only used 1 cup of red wine (wasn’t sure how strong the taste would be for them) and blended half of the veggie chunks. I’d do it all over again tonight!!

  2. Followed the recipe exactly and the flavors were amazing, but the meat was not as tender as I prefer. Any suggestions? Cook longer….cook shorter…?

    1. Hi, Andrea, Thanks so much for your question. Hmmm… that’s odd. A chuck roast is generally pretty easy to cook. Perhaps it was the way it was cut? Glad you enjoyed otherwise!

  3. 5 stars
    This was an amazing recipe. I usually change things in recipes to suit my taste. This one was perfect just the way it was.

  4. If using the insta pot, you suggested only cooking it under high pressure for 20 mins or should it be longer? Also, what suggestions do you have on what to serve it with other than polenta?

    1. Hi, Megan, Thanks so much for your question. You can do it in the Instant Pot, but I highly recommend slowly braised in a Dutch oven in your oven first. I never do large cuts of meat in a pressure cooker but if you really want to, I said in a reply to another reader it would take at least 60 minutes for a 4-pound roast. Something smaller, obviously less. I have a section in the write-up for other things to serve beside the polenta:
      Pappardelle (thick, strand pasta)
      Mashed potatoes
      Risotto or other rice
      Cauliflower White Bean Puree
      Celery Root Puree

  5. This Italian pot roast was SOOO GOOD! I made it with sirloin tip and polenta with parmesan instead of blue cheese. Both took longer than recommended cook time but it was delicious!! Bold flavors! Will definitely make again.

    1. Hi, Jamie! Thank you so very much! I have been using sirloin tip a lot lately myself. It’s much leaner than chuck roast which I really like, so would need some additional braising time to tenderize because of that. You can definitely change out the cheese, too if you’re not a fan of blue cheeses. Thanks again and glad you enjoyed!

  6. 5 stars
    This Italian roast with polenta is Amazing! I made it with sirloin Tip and both polenta & roast took longer than recommended cook time but who care this was phenomenal! Would be great for dinner party with salad & wine. Super robust flavors! Loved it! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Hello-
    This looks amazing, however I have a severe mold allergy, so gorgonzola and any other moldy cheese is a no go.
    What would you suggest as a substitute?

    1. Hi, Stephanie, Thanks so much for your question. If you can do goat cheese, I think that would be a great substitute. Someone used Pecorino Romana and enjoyed it with that cheese. Hope those two suggestions work and hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Beth, Thanks so much for your question. You absolutely can make it in a slow cooker. I’d do 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Thanks again and hope that helps!

  8. Made this tonight, only changed the cheese in the polenta to Pecorino Romano. I also marinated the beef in wine and garlic overnight, then allowed to drain on paper towels before braising. It’s a huge hit with the family. I cook a lot and this will now be heavy in the rotation here! Absolutely delicious!

    1. Hi, Sara, Thanks so very much, glad you and everyone enjoyed so much and you really made my day! You can definitely change up the cheese in the polenta–even cheddar would work. Thanks again!

  9. 5 stars
    Made the Stracotto & Polenta, only changed the cheese in the polenta to Pecorino Romano. It’s a huge hit with the family! Absolutely delicious!!!