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Pot Roast Italian Style: Stracotto, A Saucy Beef Stew, With Puréed Cauliflower, Mashed Potatoes or Pasta

Stracotto means OVER COOKED in Italian and is the reason this beef stew is so tender and succulent!  It is usually served with potatoes or pappardelle pasta, but the Italian beef and tomato sauce is paired here with Puréed Cauliflower! Fewer carbs and more veggies to get you to the goal of 4 cups of vegetables a day! This recipe is adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins. There are several steps, but so worthwhile!

Stracotto starts out by searing a whole beef pot roast. After it simmers in beef broth it’s removed from the pot and sliced into pieces. An alternative time saving step is to leave the roast whole after simmering in broth and proceed simmering the roast and tomato sauce in the oven as the recipe directs you. 

Here’s what that looks like. I used red peppers instead of green this time:

This beef roast is sliced after the final cooking and dished up with mashed potatoes and topped with the Italian tomato sauce. Shavings of hard cheese like Parmesan are dropped on top.

  • Place a large saucepan or adult Dutch oven over high heat. 
  • Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and swirl around
  • Add a 3 and 1/2 pound beef chuck roast. 
  • Keep over medium high heat and brown on one side. Don’t touch or try to turn it until it’s deeply browned, about 10 minutes each side.


  • Once it’s crusty brown, 10 minutes, turn it over and brown the other side



  • After it’s browned, remove beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add to the same saucepan:


4 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

8 cloves garlic, slivered

  • Sauté until softened. 
  • Remove the vegetables and set aside.
  • Place the roast back in the saucepan
  • Pour over the roast:

2 cups beef stock

  • Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the lower part of the oven.
  • Remove the roast and place on a cutting board *You can eliminate this step if you like. 
  • Trim off the fat and divide roast into 3 to 4 inch wide sections
  • Slice the sections across the grain into 1/4 inch slices


  • Return the slices to the saucepan.
  • Layer over the meat slices:    

2-28 ounce cans tomatoes, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons dried thyme

3 bay leaves or dried Mirto leaves which I found in Corsica and Sicily

1 and 1/2 cups rich red wine, like Cab or Shiraz

  • Bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven
  • Bake 1 and 1/2 hours

At this point it’s ready to serve with the traditional penne or pappardelle style pasta or mashed potatoes. I used Puréed Cauliflower which is like a light mashed potato.

Puréed Cauliflower

  • Wash 1-2 large heads of cauliflower and cut into big chunks
  • Place in a medium saucepan with an inch of water. 
  • Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer till tender, about 10 minutes
  • Drain the cauliflower and purée with an emersion or stick blender.
  • Add and purée with:

A little cream or milk

A bit of butter is also an option

Salt to taste, optional

Grated nutmeg is also a possible addition

The Pureed Cauliflower using 1 head of cauliflower serves 4-6. The Stracotto serves closer to 12. If you are serving a crowd, use 2 heads of cauliflower. The Stracotto is so involved, I like to make this big recipe and freeze the leftovers or serve to guests at a dinner party. Perfect comfort food for cold winter days.


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