Stracotto (Italian Pot Roast) Recipe
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The key to success with this wonderfully flavorful dish is using the right cut of meat and long, slow cooking. Choose a chuck roast that has some fat and connective tissue which will slowly dissolve into a delicious sauce.
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1 beef chuck roast, about 3 lbs
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 stalk celery
4 cloves garlic
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (substitute canned)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry red wine
1 sprig rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or other heavy lidded pot which can hold the roast without a lot of extra room around it. Salt and pepper the meat and brown it well on all sides.
While the meat browns, chop the onions, carrot and celery, and slice the mushrooms and garlic. Remove the meat, add the chopped vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves, garlic, tomato paste and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Add the meat and any juices that have accumulated and nestle it well down into the vegetables. Add enough water to come about half way up the roast. Adjust heat so the liquid is barely simmering when covered.
Simmer, covered, until the meat is falling-apart tender. This may take from 2 - 4 hours, depending on the particular roast: its shape (squareish roasts will take longer than flatter ones), the age of the animal from which it came, etc.
If the sauce seems too thin when the roast is done, remove the meat to a warmed platter and either boil the sauce rapidly to the desired consistency, or thicken it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/4th cup water and then blended into the sauce and cooked for several minutes. Taste for seasonin; serve meat and sauce hot. Good with potatoes, noodles or polenta.
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