The Secret to Stracoto

I love pot roast. However, I have to admit that I don’t love the traditional additions of potatoes, carrots, etc. to the roast. I think this is mainly because I must eat pasta with a roast. It is a perfect accompaniment to the tender meat and the hearty flavorful sauce, but I don’t necessarily want potatoes and carrots in my pasta. A few years ago I saw Giada DeLaurentiis make a stracoto, which is basically an Italian pot roast with porcini mushrooms. Since then, I have been substituting mushrooms into my roasts.

My recipe and enticing pictures after the jump.

Here is my go to pot roast recipe that I have been making for many years.

Stracoto: Italian Style Pot Roast

3 pound boneless beef chuck roast
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
1 large onion, sliced in half moons
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups water
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water
Preheat oven to 350F. Bring your roast to room temperature, pat it dry with a paper towel and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
In a medium sized dutch oven or other heavy pan, heat the grapeseed oil or canola oil until very hot. Brown the roast on all sides to form a nice crust. Set aside on a plate.
While you are browning the roast, combine the tomatoes, red wine, bay leaves, brown sugar, and water in a large bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
Add your sliced onions and garlic to the hot pan. Add up to 1 tablespoon of oil, if needed. Saute until the onions are soft and starting to get golden brown, stirring often so they do not burn, about 5-7 minutes.
Pour about 1/4 cup of your liquid mixture into the pan to de-glaze. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits from the meat and onions. Then add the rest of your liquid ingredients and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, add the roast and pour in any of the juices that settled onto the plate. Press down to make sure the meat is almost completely submerged in the liquid. Cover and place in oven.
After about 1 1/2 hours, add the sliced mushrooms to the roast. Mix it around as best you can and push the mushrooms down into the sauce. Cover and continue cooking for another 2-2 1/2 hours. Ideal total cooking time is 3 1/2 – 4 hours.
When roast is done, remove from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Put the dutch oven on the stove, add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce.. The sauce should already be fairly thick, so just lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens further, about 10 minutes.

Meat submerged and ready for braising.

This is what it looked like about 1 1/2 hours in, right before I added the mushrooms.

Mushrooms added.

Oh boy. I let this cook for just under 4 hours and it was literally falling apart as I scooped it out of the pot. No knife required…that’s the way I like it. :yes:

The sauce was pretty thick already, so use your judgment about the necessity of the corn starch. I added some anyway to ensure a nice thick gravy for the pasta.

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