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.
Made this last night for some friends. Always worried about serving something that I haven't tried first. Amazing... they and I loved it! The chuck I got from Whole Foods was 4.3 lbs and it was very thick so I sliced it in half and browned each separately, I was worried that it wouldn't cook through. It came out perfect - pulled it apart. Used Bob's Red Mill polenta with the gorgonzola. It was velvet smooth! Will definitely do this one again and again.
Hi, Patrick, Thanks so very much!!! So happy you and everyone enjoyed! I strive for first-time success in all my recipes so glad this one is a keeper for you. Thanks again!
This recipe was AMAZING and a big hit with my family. My only issue was the sauce was very watery (flavorful but watery). I followed the directions exactly using a 5 lb chuck roast and crushed San Marzano tomatoes as recommended and cooked it for close to 3 hours. The meat was perfect. Any suggestions on what went wrong with my sauce? Thank you!!
Hi, Susan, Thanks so very much and glad you all enjoyed! I've noticed different brands of crushed tomatoes have different consistencies which can contribute to whether it has a gravy-like consistency or is on the thinner side. I can't remember which brand I used but I do recall I didn't need to thicken it. If you like all the products/tomatoes you used, next time try a little flour slurry to thicken it up. Thanks again!
I happen to have a 2# chuck roast in the freezer. Is that too small or can I just cut everything in half.
Hi, Michele, Thanks so much for your question. You can do it either way: Do the roast with the volume of ingredients listed and have a wonderful sauce leftover to enjoy with something else or cut the volume in half. You could also add potatoes and carrots to take up the room and do more of a conventional pot roast. Two pounds is pretty small and they will shrink. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!
Can you make the pot roast part in an Instant Pot?
Hi, Kat, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you can, but you'll probably have to reduce the liquid. I never do large cuts of meat (stews only) in an electric pressure cooker but from checking online, it looks like it will take (60-80 minutes). Thanks again and hope you enjoy.
This is my 3rd winter making this rich comforting Pot Roast and Polenta on a cold weekend night. My family loves it, so delicious. But what I love the most, is the technique for making the cheesy polenta. Whether I’m making shrimp and grits or polenta with a Ragu…I use this oven method. It’s wonderful with any cheese (cheddar, smoked Gouda) you have in the fridge. It’s hands off and in an hour you’re good to go. This has become my “go to” polenta recipe. You must give it a try.
Hi, Linda, Thanks so very much and so happy you love this recipe so much! Making the polenta is the oven was life-changing! The even heat produces perfect results. Thanks again so very much!!
I was wondering if there is something I can substitute for the red wine. I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic. I want to make this tomorrow!!
Hi, Rae, That is AWESOME!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! Thanks so much for your question! You could substitute 1 cup pomegranate juice or grape juice for the wine and use an extra cup of beef broth. You may need to adjust the acidity a little bit at the end--perhaps with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Thanks again, hope you enjoy!
Thanks so much for replying to my question!! I’m going to try the pomegranate juice! I’ll have to let you know how it all turns out! I’m so excited!!
I’m sorry…. I have another question. This one is about the polenta. Is the polenta you’re talking about in the actual recipe “pre-cooked” polenta? I’ve been reading others question about the instant polenta but my Italian store/deli has the pre-cooked. Thanks again.
Hi, Rae, Not a problem at all! It is not the pre-cooked polenta. It's surprising that an Italian store would only have precooked but for some reason, regular polenta HAS been difficult to find lately. (As with many things, I guess.) I finally found some Bob's Red Mill polenta the other day at Whole Foods. Instant polenta by DeLallo has been easier to find. Thanks so much and hope you can make it work out!
Would you sprinkle with gremolata?
Hi, Pat, Thanks so much for your question. You could certainly do that. That final touch of something fresh and tangy IS very nice on braised meats. Give it a try and let me know how it works. Thanks so much!!
Lauren Singer says
HI! I made this last night with a very expensive piece of chuck roast! The sauce and flavors were AMAZING!! I followed the recipe exactly however, my meat was tough and very dry....I was so upset! What would make the meat NOT fall apart? It was hard to even cut with the knife!! I saved the sauce it made to put over pasta tonight though!
Hi, Lauren, OMG I'm so sorry to hear that and beef is so expensive now. Depending upon where you got it, I would say something to the butcher. The Fresh Market and Whole Foods are generally pretty good about making things right. If the roast was larger, perhaps it needed a little more time? Also, I know this goes against the grain, but I am not a fan of grass-fed beef. My experience with grass-fed (even though that's how cows should be raised) is that it's always more on the dry side. Do you have an Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker? Perhaps put it in there for a while and see if you can shred it then. That just shouldn't happen with a chuck roast; they're meant to fall apart because of the connective tissue. Again, so sorry and hope you'll try this recipe again.
Lauren Singer says
oh thank for getting back to me! It was 3 1/2 pounds! I do have a crockpot! Maybe I will throw it in and see what happens! Thank you!
Hi again, Lauren, a 3 1/2 pound chuck roast should have gotten tender in that amount of time if it's cut properly and a true chuck roast. I wonder if they gave you the right thing.
Also, is your oven temperature accurate?
Making this for a NYE dinner. So excited to try!
Thanks so much, Rhonda. Hope you enjoy!!
This recipe sounds amazing. My boyfriend can’t have the red wine, do you have any suggestions for substitutes?
Hi, Ryan, Thanks for your question. Can he have red wine vinegar? If so, I would add a teaspoon or two per cup of broth and use a little extra broth. You don't want it too acidic so taste it after using 1 teaspoon. You could also use pomegranate juice with a teaspoon or two of white wine vinegar. I've also used white wine in recipes for beef and it has worked out fine. Thanks so much and hope you can make it work and enjoy!
The red wine vinegar should work. Thank you, looking forward to trying this!
Could this be made in the slow cooker?
Hi, Pam, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you can definitely do this (without the polenta) in your slow cooker but keep in mind that slow cookers tend to water flavors down. You could do four to six hours (would depend on 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. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!
I made this last night and it was superb! I could only use a 3-lb roast because that’s all the store had on hand… wishing I had more leftovers now! I also had to use precooked polenta because Publix was sold out of the dry. I heated it with butter and milk and had to mash it but it was still awesome. The pancetta is a great touch as it adds a ton of flavor!
Hi, Christine, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed!! That was a great creative solution on the polenta! I haven't tested this with two 3-pound roasts but it should still work. You may need to increase the liquid amount a little bit. Thanks again!
This was a top 10 recipe! We seriously ate with our eyes closed because we were all lost in the decadent richness of this. Thank you!
Hi, Caril, Wow, what a compliment! Thank you so very much and so glad you and everyone enjoyed! You really made my day. Thanks again!!
I am making this very soon but am having a hard time finding polenta. I have some quick polenta and wondered if I could use that?
Hi, Judy, Thanks so much for your question. I am also having a very hard time finding polenta; instant is about it. Must be a supply chain thing? You can definitely use instant but follow the package directions closely; instant polenta is not meant for the oven. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!!
If there were 10 stars I would give it 10! Oh my word, this is amazing. Talk about a comfort food! I made the roast as written. Didn't change a thing. My only thing....the fat that accumulated on the top of my dish. I used a spoon and got at least 1/2 a cup of fat from the top but it still had more than I would like. Any tricks of the trade on eliminating most of that fat? The roast I used was already trimmed so I didn't trim anything from it. The polenta I used was "instant" - and all that I had on hand, so I just cooked it on top of the stove and used the cheese I had on hand too and that was parmesan. My husband went NUTS over this recipe and said it was to go in the "special" food and into fall/winter rotation. Seriously, if you are just thinking about making this recipe....think no longer! This is a hands down WINNER! So thankful to find it and find your website. Anxious to try some of your other recipes. Love the detailed instructions too!
Hi, Cindy, Oh my. Thanks so very much!! Your kind comments are very humbling and I'm so happy that you and yours had such a fabulous meal. Thanks again and sure hope to hear more great reviews from you!!
Regarding chuck roasts, they have more fat and connective tissue that breaks down but that's why they become so tender. You could use a sirloin tip roast but you won't have that silky texture; it will be drier.
Cindy, put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and you will be able to lift the fat cap right off. You can add a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to give a silky mouth feel to replace the fat.
The store was out of pancetta. Do you think I could substitute cubed prosciutto? Thank you!
Hi, Mark, Thanks so much for your question. Definitely substitute prosciutto. Bacon would be a little too smoky. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!