Italian Pot Roast, or Stracotto as it’s known in Italy, is a hearty and flavorful family meal that is perfect for those who love tender, slow-cooked meat infused with the rich flavors of wine, tomatoes, and herbs. This traditional Italian dish has been warming hearts (and stomachs!) for generations, and now it’s time for you to bring Italy’s best-kept secret straight to your own dinner table.
With this guide, you’ll learn not only how to make Italian Pot Roast, but also the fascinating history and cultural significance behind this beloved meal. So gather your ingredients, don your chef’s hat, and get ready to impress your family and friends with your culinary prowess!
For this classic Italian Pot Roast recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- 3-4 lb beef chuck roast or other similar cut, well-trimmed
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups red wine (Chianti or another dry red wine)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to make your Italian Pot Roast:
- Season your beef roast generously with salt and black pepper on all sides.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned roast and brown it on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once browned, remove the roast to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the same pot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Return the roast to the pot, along with the crushed tomatoes, red wine, beef broth, basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer it to a preheated 300°F oven.
- Cook the pot roast in the oven for 3.5-4 hours or until the meat is fork-tender, turning the roast every hour.
- Once done, remove the pot roast from the oven and transfer the meat to a serving platter. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. In the meantime, remove and discard the bay leaves, and season the sauce with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve the sliced pot roast with the sauce, and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
History and Curiosities
The origins of Italian Pot Roast can be traced back to the late Middle Ages or the Renaissance period, when the art of slow cooking meats and vegetables with wine and herbs became popular in Italy. Stracotto, meaning “over-cooked” in Italian, was a common technique employed by peasants to make the most of the tough, lower-quality cuts of meat available to them.
These slow-cooked meals were often served during communal events and celebrations, as the ingredients were relatively affordable and the preparation method allowed for large quantities of food to be made at once. Over time, the recipe evolved, and regional variations emerged as cooks began incorporating local ingredients and flavors into their pot roasts.
Today, Italian Pot Roast is a treasured classic enjoyed not only in Italy but around the world. Its rich and aromatic fragrance has become a symbol of the warmth and hospitality shared and cherished by countless families and communities, making it a meal that truly spans both borders and hearts. So as you sit down to enjoy your homemade Italian Pot Roast, delight in the knowledge that you too are a part of this enduring culinary tradition. Buon appetito!