Italian Pot Roast

Italian pot roast over polenta in a black bowl
Tap any image to pin it.

This fall-apart tender Italian pot roast stands out from the crowd. Salty pancetta, tomatoes and a handful of herbs make this a meal that you’ll be thinking about long after the last bite. 

‘Tis the Season for Roast Beast! 

“When the Grinch Stole Christmas,”—playing on repeat in our homes this time of year—reminds us that this season is not how many presents you’ve received. It’s about love. And nothing say “I love you” like gathering your favorite people together around your table and feeding them something a little special. Enter this Italian pot roast recipe! Although it takes a little time—a low-and-slow cook is what makes pot roast oh-so-delicious—pot roast is actually a really low-key recipe. So go ahead and invite a big crowd over! Pop open a bottle of red wine, throw a couple of logs on the fire, spin some holiday tunes and create the kind of glowing, cozy memories that this time of year is supposed to be all about. 

braiser of Italian style pot roast

Italian Flavors Make For the Best Pot Roast Recipe, Ever. 

What makes this pot roast an Italian pot roast? Well, the classic all-American pot roast is usually flavored with super-simple things—think carrots, onions, potatoes maybe a little garlic if your Grandma was a wild-child. Our riff on the classic gets its Italian flavors from: 

  • Pancetta! Pancetta is very similar to bacon. However, instead of being smoked (as most bacon is) pancetta is cured with salt. If you can’t find pancetta, though, a good-quality bacon works as a replacement.
  • Tomato paste. Did you know? Tomato paste is a supercharged source of umami! 
  • Red wine. Any excuse to open a bottle! Kidding, kidding. Wine stands in for the traditional beef or chicken broth as the liquid that your pot roast will braise in. Acid in the wine helps to break down the meat—which is a good thing—and will add a special depth of flavor, too. 
  • Lots of garlic! Because we love garlic, and so does everyone else. 
Italian Pot Roast

Italian Flavors Make For the Best Pot Roast Recipe, Ever. 

What makes this pot roast an Italian pot roast? Well, the classic all-American pot roast is usually flavored with super-simple things—think carrots, onions, potatoes maybe a little garlic if your Grandma was a wild-child. Our riff on the classic gets its Italian flavors from: 

  • Pancetta! Pancetta is very similar to bacon. However, instead of being smoked (as most bacon is) pancetta is cured with salt. If you can’t find pancetta, though, a good-quality bacon works as a replacement.
  • Tomato paste. Did you know? Tomato paste is a supercharged source of umami! 
  • Red wine. Any excuse to open a bottle! Kidding, kidding. Wine stands in for the traditional beef or chicken broth as the liquid that your pot roast will braise in. Acid in the wine helps to break down the meat—which is a good thing—and will add a special depth of flavor, too. 
  • Lots of garlic! Because we love garlic, and so does everyone else. 
italian pot roast over creamy polenta in a bowl with a side of fresh parsley

What Is the Best Meat for Pot Roast?

Let’s set the record straight once and for all—the term “pot roast” actually refers to the cooking method used in pot roast recipes, not a specific cut of meat. Pot roast is basically just a way of braising tough cuts (read: inexpensive! yay!) of beef so that they become tender and juicy. Because the cuts you can use are much cheaper than other cuts of beer, pot roast is a great way to feed a crowd. Here are a few cuts that work well: 

  • Chuck roast (our pick!)
  • Brisket 
  • Rump roast
Italian pot roast in a large braiser topped with fresh parsley

How To Make Pot Roast

This Italian pot roast recipe is made for lazy Sundays as the rain gently pitters against the windowpane. It’s the definition of comfort food and it’s all about taking things slow. Carve out a little time, and let’s get started. Here’s how to make Italian pot roast: 

  1. Prep your vegetables! 
  2. Brown the meat.
  3. Crisp the pancetta. (Tip: use the same pot you browned the meat in—one-pot dinners FTW!).
  4. Nestle your pot roast back into the pan along with the wine, tomato paste and bay leaves and bring it to a simmer. It should be looking pretty pot-roast-y now. 
  5. Pop it in the oven for 2 whole hours—aka, just enough time to get comfy on the couch and watch a movie. 
  6. Once the meat is fork-tender, lift it out of the pan and make a gravy with the pan drippings.   
  7. Serve to a happy crowd!
Italian pot roast over polenta in a black ceramic bowl with a glass of wine and a pot of italian pot roast

What To Serve With Italian Pot Roast

We love serving the pot roast over our garlic mashed potatoes! Or, to complete the Italian theme, our creamy polenta recipe. If you want something a tad lighter, our simple Italian salad is a wonderful option.

pot roast over creamy polenta with a glass of wine and crusty bread

Tools You’ll Need:

Four Meals That Are Just as Cozy as This Pot Roast

When the days are short and the temperatures drop, turn on the oven and settle in for the long season ahead with a few other one-pot recipes.  

  1. One-Pot Chicken Stuffing Casserole
  2. Classic Beef Stew 
  3. Meatball Shakshuka 
  4. Philly Cheese Steak Skillet 

A Pot Roast Worth Gathering For

We would love to see how you brought your friends and family together with this pot roast recipe. Snap a photo and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you fed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Italian Pot Roast

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 lb chuck roast, trimmed and cut
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta (or good quality bacon)
6 garlic cloves
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 celery spears, finely chopped
1 cup diced carrots
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cups red wine
italian parsley for serving
mashed potatoes or egg noodles for serving

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Generously salt and pepper the meat. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-high. Once steaming, brown meat in batches until brown on all sides. Remove from dish and continue until all the meat is cooked. Set the meat aside.
  2. Still over medium-high heat, cook pancetta until crispy. Add onions, carrots and celery stirring constantly to scrape up brown bits. If your vegetables are sticking to the bottom, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the onions, carrots and celery until softened. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
  3. Using tongs, nestle the meat into the vegetable mixture. Pour the wine over the meat. The meat should not be completely covered. Stir in tomato paste. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Bring the liquid to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, cover with the lid and move to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
  4. Once the roast is done, the meat should be tender. Move the meat to a serving dish and tent with foil. Without the lid, bring the liquid and vegetables to a boil over medium-high heat. After about 8-10 minutes the liquid should thicken and reduce by about ⅓. This will be your “gravy”. Pour the gravy over the top of the meat. Garnish with Italian parsley and serve warm over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.