Gabriella’s Pot Roast


I can no longer separate my childhood memories of this dish from when I started making it for my own family. It seems to have always been part of my life! I do remember that it wasn’t something my mom made for company (not fancy enough), but it did qualify for Sunday dinner (it was still special). On Sundays, the house would gradually become more and more fragrant with the perfume of the roast as it gently simmered away in the oven.I started making the pot roast—we all call it Gabriella’s pot roast, after my mother—when my kids were little and I was working on my first cookbook. Not only was it unbelievably good, it was also beyond easy, exactly the sort of recipe a harried parent appreciates. Here’s something funny: When my mom read the recipe in print, she insisted her version never contained tomatoes. We would go back and forth about this, and to this day I’m not sure I believe her! Over the years, I’ve played with my version, cutting the amount of tomato to just a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, and moving it closer to what I believe her pot roast was.Sometimes my mother used the sauce from the roast to dress homemade spaghetti alla chitarra (a square-cut noodle from her native Abruzzo, Italy), then sliced and served the meat with the rest of the sauce spooned on top as a secondo, or second course. Other times, we’d have the pot roast with roasted potatoes on the side, or bread for scooping up the sauce. Today, I serve it all these ways to my family and friends.My mom is very old now and has dementia, so whenever I make this recipe, I’m filled with gratitude for the many years of wonderful aromas that filled her kitchen—and for the love of cooking she passed on to me.Domenica Marchetti (@domenicacooks)Author ofPreserving Italyand six other books on Italian cooking

Gabriella’s Pot Roast Recipe
Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Hands On Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
4 serves


  • 2 ½ pounds chuck roast, tied

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 tablespooons canola oil

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots (from 1 or 2 carrots)

  • 1 cup finely chopped celery (from 2 ribs celery)

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 4 sprigs thyme

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • Parsley leaves, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Season beef with pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.

  2. Heat canola oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof pot over medium-high. Add beef and brown, flipping once, until well-seared, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add olive oil. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion. Then add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

  4. Increase heat to medium-high and pour in wine. Let bubble until slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water. Return beef to pot, along with any juices on plate. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in oven. Roast beef, turning every 30 minutes, until fork-tender, about 2 hours.

  5. Transfer roast to a cutting board. Place pot over medium-high and let simmer for 5 minutes to slightly thicken sauce. Discard bay leaves and thyme. Coarsely mash vegetables with a potato masher.

  6. Slice roast and transfer to a serving platter. Spoon sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Chef's Notes

Shred any leftover meat, then toss it with pasta and remaining sauce for a speedy second dinner.

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