Straccotto – Italian Pot Roast

So, I decided to be brave and try a pot roast recipe different from my mom’s New England pot roast that I have always made. I mean, I know we love it, so why risk doing something different that we might not like? But I decided it was time, and since our trip to Florence, Italy, last September, I’ve been more into Italian food than ever, so that’s the direction I went.

I looked online for recipes, and found several for Straccotto, or Italian pot roast with red wine and tomatoes. I didn’t really follow a recipe for this, but sort of combined elements of several. It turned out great. I served it over rotini pasta with a green salad and garlic bread.

I’m not a big fan of red wines, but I did want to use one for this recipe. So I went to Angry Adam’s, a local wine, beer and cheese shop, for a recommendation. Randy recommended a Guenoc Lake Country Petite Sirah. It was perfect – not too dry or tannic; nice and soft on the palate. You could also use Barolo or Chianti.

The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind is not strictly necessary, but I found it really smoothed out the flavor of the sauce. I buy it from D’Italia through – it’s a lot less expensive that way.

Straccotto – Italian Pot Roast

3 lb. chuck roast
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup red wine
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (I used shiitake, because I already had them)
1 cup hot water
1 14.5-oz. can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 2×2-inch square of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind (optional but gives great flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. water

In a small bowl, add hot water to 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms and set aside to rehydrate. Drain, reserving the liquid, and chop the mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Sprinkle one side of the meat with salt and pepper, then place it in the Dutch oven, seasoned side down. Brown well, season the second side, then turn to brown the second side. Remove to a plate.

Add onions and garlic to the pot and saute till softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan (stir to loosen browned bits on the bottom of the pan). Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, to cook off some of the alcohol and reduce the wine a little.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot, along with the reserved liquid, stewed tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaf and cheese rind. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the meat back to the pot. Spoon some of the liquid over the meat. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Using large tongs, turn the meat over, cover, and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours.

Remove meat to a plate and tent with foil; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into sauce and bring sauce to a boil. Simmer for five minutes. Serve over pasta or polenta with garlic bread and a green salad. Delish!

Italian Pot Roast

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