Italian Pot Roast

A lot of people think a slow cooker is only good for an easy last minute meal you throw in the pot before you go to work. Sometimes that can be true. There are many crock pot meals that are just that. Cut things up and throw them in and they are tasty. But your slow cooker can also work its magic on meals that take a bit more work. In fact, it's those meals that make my slower cooker one of my favorite appliances and one I just couldn't do without.

When I am in a "fancy" slow cooker mood I always turn to The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. Every recipe I have made from this book is mouth-watering delicious. They also take a lot of work. Really a lot, but worth every minute of it.

This Italian Pot Roast is one of those recipes. I will say that the prep time was probably about 45 minutes to an hour. It was worth it. This is one of the most delicious meals I have made in my slow cooker. If you have time and want to make something really special, I totally recommend this. Since it was so time intensive I actually got it going the night before, cooked it overnight then turned it back on about two hours before dinner. With this dish, the longer it cooks the better it tastes.


  • 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, slicked
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup hearty dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the meat and cook, turning, for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on all sides. Using tongs, transfer to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the onion to the saute pan and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  4. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for 3 - 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
  5. Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the red wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about one-third.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.
  8. Pour sauce over the meat in the slow cooker.
  9. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the meat falls away from the bone.
  10. Garnish with parsley.
  11. Serve over polenta, potatoes or rice.

As I mentioned above I cooked this for 10 hours overnight, then two more hours before dinner to heat it up and thicken. It really did need thickening. I asked friends online how to thicken this and got different responses. My main question was whether to use corn starch or flour. Apparently, corn starch will thin out when reheating so I created a slurry with flour to thicken the pot roast. One thing you never do is just throw flour into the dish. You will get icky lumps. I took out some of the sauce (and fat) from the pot roast and heated it up in my saute pan. I then gradually whisked in about 2 tablespoons of flour. I let that heat up and added about another cup or two of the sauce from the pot roast and let that simmer and thicken. I then added it back to the pot roast and let it cook for about 30 minutes. It turned out perfectly.

P.S. On this post, special thanks to my good friend Brenda that caught all my silly mistakes!!!


Brenda August 10, 2009 at 5:32 PM  

So what I want to know is....what in the world did you use to break up a cinnamon stick into pieces? That stuff's indestructible!

Sounds delicious btw. =)

Sean August 10, 2009 at 6:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean August 10, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

I happened to have a mortar that I bought on sale at Pottery Barn about four years ago. (It's at the top of that montage picture thing I made.) I NEVER used it and was actually using it as a change holder!

I am so glad I had it because with very few spices, less than a teaspoon, this was seasoned perfectly! I do have to say, though, that I had to grind this combo for about 30 minutes while talking on the phone to Joey. THAT was not included in the prep time.

This is probably the most time intensive slow cooker meal I have ever made, however, it is also, hands down, the most perfectly seasoned slow cooker meal I have ever made.

Brenda August 11, 2009 at 7:07 AM  

You are so much more dedicated than I. If I make it, I will cheat and use preground spices (don't judge me! *snicker*)

btw...I saw Julie & Julia yesterday...and thought about you the whole time. =)

Sean August 11, 2009 at 9:39 AM  

I was tempted to cheat, but Raquel told me the ground herbs had much more oil and flavor. She was so right!

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About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean


This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

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