The main content
Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto di Manzo—Overcooked Beef) and Polenta

Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto di Manzo—Overcooked Beef) and Polenta


  • One 4-pound chuck roast (brisket or boneless short rib are great, as well, but I like lean, tough and affordable chuck meat and a slow, low cook for about 3 hours)

  • Kosher salt and black pepper

  • Olive oil (3 tablespoons to brown meat and, as needed, to continue with sauce preparation if the pan needs to be drained, depending on the fat content of meat you choose)

  • About 1/3 pound meaty guanciale or pancetta, fine dice

  • 2 carrots, finely chopped

  • 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 fresh bay leaves

  • 1 bunch sage

  • 2 or 3 sprigs rosemary, plus 3 tablespoons, chopped, for garnish

  • 1 bunch carrot tops (optional)

  • 10 to 12 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed

  • 10 to 12 juniper berries (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

  • About 2 cups red wine

  • About 2 cups beef bone broth or stock

  • One 28-ounce can diced or crushed Italian tomatoes

  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Serves: 8

Bring meat to room temperature (about an hour) and pat dry.   

Preheat oven to 325°F, with rack at center.

Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven with olive oil to coat and brown beef evenly 8 to 10 minutes total, then remove. Drian and wipe pan, if necessary, and heat fresh oil to lightly coat pan, if necessary. Add the guanciale or pancetta and cook 2 to 3 minutes, then add the Italian sofrito (carrots, celery and onions) and season with a bit of salt and more black pepper. 

With kitchen string, tie together the bay, sage, rosemary sprigs and carrot tops (if using) and add to the pot. Add garlic, juniper and red pepper flakes, stir a minute, then add the red wine and reduce by half. Add stock and tomatoes and slide beef into sauce. Cover with foil and lid and place in oven, center rack, 2 ½ to 3 hours until very tender. Remove sage and bay. Remove meat. Place pot on the stove and reduce sauce over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.   

Arrange meat in large shallow bowl or on platter in chunks that can be pulled apart with fork. Top with sauce, chopped parsley and rosemary and serve with side of choice.