Stracotto pot roast is pure comfort food – The Denver Post

Bill St. John, Special to The Denver Post

The stracotto pot roast atop the stove before going into the oven. (Bill St. John, Special to The Denver Post)

Comfort food.

Comfort. Food. Time is right.

Today’s recipe is a combination of a traditional “Yankee pot roast” and an Italian version of the same called “stracotto” (“overdone,” but happily). The signatures in the latter are garlic slivers embedded in the meat, and an unholy amount of basil for verdant flavor, over and above the common and also-included herbal notes of rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Serve this with whatever sides you desire or have on hand — baked or “smashed” potatoes, rice, pasta, or more vegetables; you get the idea.


  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck or rump roast
  • 3 large cloves peeled garlic, slivered, plus 10 cloves whole garlic, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 red or yellow onions, peeled and quartered or in eighths, depending on the size of the onions
  • 3 stalks of inner celery, leaves included, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (you may substitute rutabaga)
  • 20 or so 1- to 2-inch chunks of mushroom (cremini, button, shiitake tops)
  • 1 14- or 22-ounce jar whole peeled tomatoes and its juices
  • Bouquet garni constructed of 2 sprigs rosemary, 3-4 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves, tied (if available, tied inside a leek sheath or leaf)
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, packed, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (or same quantity of 100% tart cherry juice)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pierce the meat in many places with the point of a small, sharp knife and insert into each opening a sliver of garlic; you should end up with several dozens of filled pockets. Lavishly salt and pepper both sides of the meat. In a large, oven-proof Dutch oven or casserole, and over a medium-high burner, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and sear the meat very well on both sides, browning and caramelizing it nicely, 5 minutes or more each side. Remove the meat to a plate off the heat.