Slow-Cooker Italian Pot Roast

Fast or slow? That was our dilemma for a Sunday dinner recently due to an early afternoon date at the movies. We realized that by the time we arrived back home, it would have been too late to start a pot roast dinner, so our options were to cook it fast in a pressure cooker afterward, or start it in a slow-cooker before heading out. As you can see, the slow-cooker method won…


This Italian spin on pot roast from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) adds red wine, oregano, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and dried porcini mushrooms. To get loads of flavor, you first brown the meat to get a nice crust, then sauté some bacon and aromatics. Deglazing the skillet with wine helps capture all the flavorful browned bits. And finally, pair with some creamy smooth, garlicky mashed potatoes and a side salad for a win.

Interestingly, I usually do not eat bacon because of its adverse effects on my digestive system, but there didn’t seem to be any residual issues afterward. It may be that with a long, slow run in the crockpot, the sautéed bacon pieces basically dissolved and fused into the other ingredients.

We did alter the end game. It’s not a particularly easy chore to skim the fat with a spoon in the crock with the roasts and veggies all there. Instead, we removed the meat to a platter and covered with foil, and discarded the bay leaves. The we poured the sauce into a large strainer over a large bowl, put the liquids into a fat separator and the solids back into the crockpot. Once the fat had separated, we added the defatted sauce back into the slow-cooker and used an immersion blender to make a more uniform “gravy”.

Since this meal serves 8-10, we had ooo-gobs leftover. Not a problem because we planned on having leftovers a few days later, and then freezing the remainder until a day next month when we would be short on time. I bet if you weren’t a pot roast fan beforehand, you would be after enjoying this repast…


Cellentani with Turkey Meatballs and Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled into 2 pieces at natural seam and trimmed (or 2 smaller, 2- to 2 1/2-pound roasts) 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushroom, rinsed and minced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley


  1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Tie 3 pieces of kitchen twine around each piece of beef to create 2 evenly shaped roasts.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown roasts on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to plate. (It’s essential to get a nice crust on the meat.)
  3. Add bacon to now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to slow cooker. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
  4. Add onions and carrots to fat left in skillet and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, mushrooms, oregano, tomato paste, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
  5. Stir tomatoes, broth, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Nestle roasts into slow cooker, adding any accumulated juices. Cover and cook until beef is tender and fork slips easily in and out of meat, 9 to 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high.
  6. Transfer roasts to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Discard bay leaves. Using large spoon, skim fat from surface of sauce. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Alternatively: Discard bay leaves. Pour the sauce into a large strainer over a large bowl. Place the strained carrot mixture back into the crockpot, and the separated liquid into a defatter. Now pour the defatted sauce back into the slow-cooker and using an immersion blender, puree until most of the sauce is well combined. It will leave the big chunks of carrots intact.
  8. Remove twine from roasts, slice meat against grain into ½-inch-thick slices, and arrange on serving dish. Spoon 1 cup sauce over meat and serve, passing remaining sauce separately.


Adapted from a recipe by America’s Test Kithchen

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