Whenever I have a craving for good old American pot roast, I pull out this very old recipe card and have a chuckle. It was part of the collection that I typed up from my mom’s recipes before I got married (for the first time) in 1973. After reading it back to her for final approval, she added “you can also add plum tomatoes, red wine, garlic and beef broth, and don’t make the gravy.” Okay, so now this is no longer pot roast as most Americans know it. Now it is beef in tomato sauce and vegetables, or better known as “Italian Style Pot Roast.” Italians are funny. We just have to add tomatoes and garlic to almost anything. Sometimes my mom made it the traditional American way, and sometimes she made it the Italian way. I struggle with this decision myself each time I pull out this card. Over the years I have made a few changes of my own. I sometimes cook this in a slow cooker. It’s great to get this in the slow cooker early in the morning and then come home to a hearty meal, ready to be served. Your house will have been filled with this wonderful aroma while you were gone. All you’ll have to do is cook some noodles (or sometimes I serve this with polenta) and sit back and have a glass of that wine you opened earlier to add to the pot.
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 beef pot roast, 3 to 4 pounds
2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces pancetta or bacon
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 cinnamon sticks, 2 inches long
2 bay leaves
3 TBSP tomato paste
3 Italian plum tomatoes (from can), squished (You can omit this and add another TBSP paste).
1 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef broth
1. Brown the beef in the 2 TBSP oil, in large pan. Make sure to brown on all sides. If you are going o cook this on top of the stove, use a dutch oven type pan for this step, as you will cook the entire dish in this.
2. Take meat out of pan and set aside. To this pan, add the pancetta, onions, carrots and celery and cook until softened, stirring often.
3. Add the garlic, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute or two.
4. Add the wine, tomato paste, tomatoes (if using) and the broth. Bring to a boil.
5. Depending on your cooking method, either return the meat to the dutch oven, or put meat in slow cooker and then cover in the veggies and sauce.
6. On the stove, cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Check often and add more broth if needed. In the slow cooker, cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or on high for 5 to 6 hours. Meat should be tender.
6. Serve on buttered noodles or on top of polenta.
The first two steps are the same, whether you make this on the stove or in a slow cooker. I use the slow cooking time table from my favorite slow cooker cookbook by Judith Finlayson. I also love her additions of pancetta or bacon, a cinnamon stick and tomato paste ( I use very little plum tomatoes now, if any).