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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Recipe Rating




172 Comments

  1. Hi Carol. This recipe sounds so good. Planning on making it soon. One question, is this a boneless chuck roast or bone in?
    Thank you
    Patricia

    1. Hi, Patricia, Thanks so much for your question. It’s a boneless chuck roast. Not sure I’ve ever seen a bone-in chuck roast, at least not around here. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  2. Hi Carol!
    This recipe looks amazing! I’ll be making it tomorrow. Quick question though…I could only find quick cooking polenta at our market. Will that work? TIA!

    1. Hi, Tracy, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, it will work, but follow the package directions for time and liquid amounts. You’ll probably want to do it on the stovetop rather than in the oven. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, looks amazing. Going to try cooking this on Sunday for my family using 2 (4 lb. roasts). Can’t wait to try. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. Cosmo Z

  4. This recipe sounds delicious, but I have a question for you: I’ve made several dishes with chuck roast lately, and despite assurances that the connective tissue will dissolve, the meat has been tough. Granted, these were recipes where the roast was cut into chunks and browned before braising, but the same promises were made about the tenderness. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Kat, Thanks so much for your question. Where are you getting them? I wonder if it’s how the butcher cut it. I once got some chuck roast from The Fresh Market and was not happy with the result; although they said it was chuck roast, it didn’t look like a typical chuck roast. If you’re nervous about how it will turn out, reduce the oven temperature to 325 and roast it for another 45 minutes to an hour. Go really low and slow. You could also try boneless short ribs which are cut from the chuck or bone-in short ribs. Thanks again and let me know how it goes.

  5. 5 stars
    I decided to try this recipe and I’m glad I did! Fantastic from beginning to end, super straight forward. Served with a crusty artisan bread–amazing. I was worried about the polenta but I didn’t need to. It came out creamy, delicious, and a great compliment to the meat. Will do again! Thanks for this recipe!

  6. I just made this- it smells delicious. The meat is tender – however the sauce is very “liquidy” and not thick at all. Is this how it should be? Is there a way to thicken the sauce?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Hi, Diane, Thanks so much for your question. If it’s not to the consistency that you like, you can remove the roast to a platter and cover to let rest. Place about 1/4 cup all-purpose flour in a bowl, add 1/2 cup or so of the liquid, stir to create a “slurry,” then add it to the sauce. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until thickened. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy!

      1. Hi, D, Thanks so much for your question. No, I definitely wouldn’t use tomato paste as it’s going to make it pretty tart. Are you okay with corn starch or arrowroot? Make a slurry with some cold water or cooled down braising liquid, then add it back to the roast and simmer until thickened. Xanthan gum would also work and won’t change the color. Thanks again and let me know how it goes!

      2. 5 stars
        Replying late. I used a corn starch slurry and it worked. The meal was fabulous. The family LOVED IT!

    1. Hi, Brian, Thanks so much for your question. You can keep it on or remove it. If you keep it on, the roast will hold it’s shape better. If you cook the roast without it, the sauce/gravy will probably penetrate the meat a little more because those meat fibers are opened up. If you want to slice the roast, keep it on. As shown, I just break it into chunks because it’s so tender, it’s hard to slice anyway. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Dario, Thanks so much for your question. I’m not so sure you’ll be able to find a roast that large; I’ve seen 4 1/2 pound chuck roasts. If you can find one that large, it’s going to take twice as long to cook. I would buy two smaller roasts and increase the amounts by a half. So, 1 1/2 large onions (2 medium will work), 3 carrots, etc., etc. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  7. 5 stars
    There was a restaurant in Martinez, CA that is now gone which served a Roast with pasta dish which we’re made from time to time over the last 20 years, even out camping. I am so excited to try this recipe, especially with the polenta. I can tell you just from reading this will be a keeper and possibly a replacement. So many options with a pot roast in Italian cooking.

  8. 5 stars
    This was fantastic! Only a small piece of beef left. I did have lots of sauce left so I froze it, then all I have to do is brown a new roast, put it in the sauce and bake. Easy peasy.

  9. 5 stars
    This was out of this world. I wish I had made more because I’m practically eating most of it before the family even gets to the table. Wow wow wow this creamy polenta with the Gorgonzola is unbelievable I love it.

    1. Hi, Mia, Thanks for your question. Yes, you can. I would break or cut into pieces as shown so it heats faster. Keep it covered so the liquid doesn’t evaporate and check the temperature with a meat thermometer if possible. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  10. 5 stars
    It’s hard to believe how many complements I receive on this dish… I’ve shared the recipe with other grandmothers but also Gen X-ers who live by themselves. It has become a family staple. Love to serve it with the polenta, but the sauce is so good, I usually do a plain rice or Italian bread to sop up the sauce! I’m doing this tonight at my grandchildren’s request before they leave for college.

    1. Hi, Joan, Wow! Thanks so very much and so happy it’s now a family favorite! YOU are the one making it, so no doubt it has your loving touch. Thanks again so much!!

  11. Any suggestions for cooking times and liquid ingredients if I am using an Instant Pot? Do the liquid ingredients stay the same? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi, Anne Marie, Thanks so much for your question. You will need to reduce the liquid by at least 1 cup. I would suggest reducing the wine by a half-cup and the broth by a half-cup. Be sure to reduce the wine first because it won’t reduce in the Instant Pot. Large cuts of meat are really better done in the oven. Let me know how it goes. Thanks again!