Slow Cooked Italian Pot Roast

First Published March 2010

This is a recipe from one of our favorite cookbooks at Hammertown, The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World.   I was reminded how much I loved the cookbook when one of our customers at the Barn was raving about her favorite “no fail” recipe in the book:  Italian Pot Roast (which is pictured on the cover).   I hadn’t made this particular recipe…so of course, we had to try it.  She was right…it was delicious!   As with most slow-cooker recipes, this tastes even better the day after you make it!  So here is the recipe with an introduction by the author:

Pot Roast is a big favorite throughout northern Italy, just as it is in the United States: a cut of beef stewed in a hearty red wine and tomato sauce.  The longer you cook it, the better it gets, as the meat begins to fall away from the bone and meld into the sauce.  It’s delicious served over polenta.  This dish is traditionally cooked in an earthenware casserole, glazed on the inside.


  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of excess fat *
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced (we used 4 stalks)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced (also used 4 carrots)
  • 1 cup hearty red wine
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • salt
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish

* Our Note:  Make sure you buy a suitable cut of meat for pot roast.  (Chuck, brisket, top round, bottom round or rump roasts)  If you’re not sure, check with your butcher.


1.  Combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
2.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Add the meat and cook, turning, for 10-15 minutes, until browned on all sides.  Using tongs, transfer meat to slow cooker.
3.  Add the onion to the sauté pan and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned.  Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about one-third. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.
4.  Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for (at least) 8 hours, until the meat falls away from the bone.  Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with parsley.  Serve immediately.

Our Note:  All slow cookers vary in temperature.  Using a boneless rump roast, we started out on High for about an hour then lowered to Low for about 7 hours.  After checking the meat we realized (with our time constraints) we needed to raise the temp again to finish in time.  We served with rice and put some of the extra sauce from the pot roast in a bowl to spoon over the rice and meat.

To Drink:

A full-bodied Barbera from the Piedmont region, from Pio Cesare or Renato Ratti.  A domestic Barbera would also work, such as one from Louis Martini.