Whether you call it pot roast, brisket, or stracoto you’re really talking about the same thing. It’s a hunk of beef that is from a frequently used muscle in the cow so it’s tough and stringy unless it’s cooked long, slow, and usually wet. After it’s been cooked in this fashion it’s buttery smooth and melts in your mouth. Not to mention you get the added benefit of having your house smell delectable while it cooks.
Brisket is a traditional Passover entree. In years past I’ve tried various recipes for brisket and branched out to various pot roasts with some success. Most years it gets eaten and people tell me that it’s good, but to be honest, none of them have really grabbed me. (The one I made last year was Susan’s recipe and it may have been fantastic, but I botched it by using the wrong kind of beer, a hazard of being a teetotaler.) But it’s so iconic as part of the Passover tradition that I can’t really bypass it.
While menu planning for this year’s Seder I started thinking about all the beef dishes I make and how one of them might be converted into a dish for our feast. It suddenly occurred to me that there is an Italian pot roast that it a huge hit every time I make it. And by “huge hit” read zero leftovers and scraping up the very last bit of gravy with forks (and sometimes fingers). It’s often been my go to meal for special occasions in the winter time. (This year mother nature has accommodated by making April so gosh darn cold. Thanks!)
The recipe is from Giada Di Laurentis back when she was making the show Everyday Italian for the Food Network. One of the things I like about it is that after you’ve prepped it on the stove top you pop it into the oven and it cooks itself for 3 hours. When you take it out the meat literally falls apart and all you have to do is use an immersion blender to puree the drippings, wine, onions, and mushrooms into a gravy that is so good you’ll be trying to use your fingers to gobble it up.
Stracoto with Porcini Mushrooms
Original recipe from Giada Di Laurentis
- 1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 3/4 cups canned beef broth
- 1/2-ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Rinse the beef and then pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy 6-quart roasting pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the beef and cook until brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total cooking time.
- Transfer the beef to a plate to wait.
- Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium and saute the onions until they are tender, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the garlic and saute 1 minute.
- Add the wine and boil 1 minute.
- Stir in the broth and mushrooms.
- Return the beef to the pan.
- Add the rosemary springs to the pan.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and transfer to the oven.
- Braise until the beef is fork-tender, turning the beef over halfway through cooking, about 3 hours.
- Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent the beef with foil and let stand 15 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary springs from the pan and using a immersion blender* puree the pan juices and vegetables until smooth.
- Test the gravy to see if it needs additional seasoning or needs to be thinned with some extra beef stock.
- Cut the beef across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the sliced beef on a platter spoon the sauce over and serve, passing the remaining sauce in a gravy boat.
* (Please use an immersion blender here if you can because I did it once in a blender and the steam built up and the liquid exploded out the top and I got some nasty burns from it. Immersion blenders are much safer in my opinion.)
Cooking time (duration): 200
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: dinner
Culinary tradition: Italian