I've been in North Carolina for the last two weeks, eating at military chow halls. Needless to say, I was looking forward to cooking when I got home. Today's recipe comes from Italian Classics, another great cookbook from the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine. No exaggeration, there are just over 4 pages of notes accompanying this recipe, which I'm not going to retype. They talk mainly about the different cuts of meat they tested, the different vegetables, broths, and other ingredients, and about the virtues of braising vs. roasting. So, what is stracotto? It's an Italian pot roast with mushrooms, tomatoes, and red wine. This was a very simple recipe to make, and the results were great!
Stracotto (Pot Roast with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Red Wine)
- 1 boneless chuck-eye, seven-bone, or boneless top-blade roast (about 3½ pounds)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped medium
- 1 small carrot, chopped medium
- 1 small celery rib, chopped medium
- 10 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup canned low-sodium beef broth
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1-1½ cups water
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat the roast dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste (see notes).
- Heat the oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown the roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a large plate; set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and beef broths, wine, tomatoes and their juices, and thyme, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat, then place a large piece of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid. Transfer the pot to the oven. Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out, 3½ to 4 hours.
- Transfer the roast to a carving board and tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the liquid in the pot to settle for about 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim fat off the surface. Add the rosemary and boil over high heat until reduced to about 1½ cups, about 8 minutes. Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Using a chef's or carving knife, cut the meat into ½-inch-thick slices or pull it apart into large pieces. Transfer the meat to a warned serving platter and pour the sauce and vegetables over it. Serve immediately.
I used 2 carrots and 2 ribs of celery, so I should have spent a little longer browning them in step 3. They were still tasty, but not browned/slightly caramelized like they could have been. I've never understood recipes that say to add salt and pepper to taste to raw meat. Am I going to lick the roast to see if there's enough seasoning on it? I just put a little bit of each, it's easy enough to add more to the sauce in step 4 (be careful not to add too much salt to the sauce though!). I used chuck-eye steak and cabernet sauvignon wine.