Slow-Cooked Beef Stew or Pot Roast

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This is a variation of an ancient Italian recipe called Peposo, so named because it uses a lot of pepper. It’s a no-brainer as far as preparation goes, and it stays in the oven all day. Something happens in the long slow cooking that gives the meat great flavor and texture and mellows the pepper. If you still have a Crock-Pot or other slow cooker, now is the time to drag it out. Traditionally, this was served over slightly stale, crusty bread topped with the braising liquid, but you can also serve it with potatoes (mashed or roasted), polenta, or pasta. Cut the meat into stew-sized chunks before cooking, if you prefer.

Classic Italian gremolata is one of my favorite seasoning blends: a light, loose mixture that adds a spike of flavor to innumerable dishes. You can make it quickly by hand or super-quickly with a mini food processor.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pounds lean stewing beef
  • 16 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons or so cracked black pepper (not ground: put several tablespoons of black peppercorns in an envelope or a fold of waxed paper and smack it with something heavy)
  • 4 cups canned diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 cups red wine, preferably a full-bodied hearty one
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Gremolata


Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or casserole, and over high heat, brown the meat well on all sides, working in batches if you have cubed the meat. Pour off the fat and add the garlic, pepper, tomatoes, wine, and basil to the pot. Cover tightly, set it in the oven, and cook for 8 to 10 hours (yes, that’s right). The idea is to bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer. Check occasionally, and if the liquid begins to cook away, add a little boiling water and turn down the oven temperature slightly. When the meat is very tender, lift it out of the pot and let the liquid sit for a few minutes while the fat rises to the top. Skim as much fat as possible from the liquid, then return the meat to the pot. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the stew if you want to. As it chills, more fat will rise to the surface and congeal, making it easier to remove. Warm the meat through, if necessary, taste and season with salt, and serve it topped with a sprinkling of Gremolata, if desired.