Pot Roast, Florentine Style

Inspired by Stracotto Aila Fiorentina from our copy of The Fine Art of Italian Cooking By Giuliano Bugialli 

The Italian pot roast is one large piece. The rump is preferred so it can cook a long time (the word stracotto means “Very well cooked”). Some fat must be left on, and, so the meat remains juicy on the inside, it is larded by drawing strips of pancetta through the inside with a larding needle (in Italy, ago lardellatore). The carrot drawn through the center also helps to flavor the inside of the meat and is aesthetically pleasing when the meat is sliced.

Stracotto is cooked with the full red wine of the area where it is made. Barolo is used in Piedmont, in Tuscany, one of the fuller Chiantis.

  • 2 medium-sized red onions
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 4 carrots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Rump roast of beef (about 3¼ pounds), with some fat left on
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, or 1 can (20 ounces) tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 cups hot meat broth

Cut the onions, celery, and 3 of the carrots into ¼-inch pieces. Put them in a large flameproof casserole, preferably terra cotta, along with the olive oil, and set aside until needed.

Put a long, thin knife lengthwise all the way through the meat, in the center. Withdraw the knife and fit the remaining carrot, whole, through the opening made by the knife.

Place in the casserole with the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste, then set the casserole on a low flame and sauté’ very gently, stirring the vegetables and turning the meat, until it is brown on all sides (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and simmer very slowly for 2¼ hours, add­ing some hot broth when needed and turning the meat several times. Taste for salt and pepper.

Remove the meat from the casserole and place it on a chopping board for 10 to 12 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, remove the fat from the top of the gravy and reheat. Cut meat into slices ¼ inch thick. Arrange the slices on a platter and serve, accompanied by the gravy in a gravy boat.

NOTE from Tom – The “gravy” from this dish is a rich flavored mariner sauce and is great served over pasta as a side dish.  Add a salad and you have a great full meal for dinner.  It will need to simmer at least one hour. Like many dishes, it will be better the next day when warmed up.

CAUTION – If you serve this to a new girlfriend then she may decide to “own” you, your freedom, and all your worldly possessions. I speak from experience.

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