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

4.64 from 211 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

4.64 from 211 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.

Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:  If you’re not a blue cheese/Gorgonzola fan, try Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Cheddar or Gruyere.
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.
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER:  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 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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174 Comments

  1. Hi I love the sound of your recipe, but I’m in the UK and nobody seems to know what a chuck roast is. So I have bought a rolled and tied brisket. What do you think? Will this insult your recipe or at least do it justice? Thanks, Old Chap

    1. Hi, Old Chap! Thanks so much for your question. No, you can’t insult my recipe; you have to work with what you have. For future reference, I did an online search for the UK equivalent of a chuck roast and apparently, it’s called a “braising steak.” A brisket will certainly work; anything that needs some time to tenderize. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

  2. 5 stars
    I made both dishes today for Father’s Day. I only used 1 cup of wine for roast and white cheddar and Parmesan cheeses for the polenta. Everything was delicious and the whole family enjoyed! Thank you for sharing.

  3. We’re not a big fan of polenta, and wondering if you have a recommendation of a substitute to have the sauce with, perhaps pasta or a crusty bread?

  4. 5 stars
    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. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

      1. Hi, Kristi, Thanks for your question. You can do LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours. Keep in mind that slow cookers tend to water flavors down, so you will want to reduce the amount of beef broth by a cup or so. You can always add it back in if needed. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  8. 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?

    1. 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!

  9. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 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!

  11. 5 stars
    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.

    Thank you!!

    1. 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!!