This stracotto di manzo is the ultimate comfort dish. Beef braised in a simple, yet delicious tomato sauce with onions until incredibly tender and flavorful. The recipe is so easy to make and can be served with crusty bread or pasta.
Stracotto di manzo is an Italian traditional dish made with beef, tomato sauce, onions, and red wine. The ingredients braise together for at least 3 hours to deliver a hearty and rich stew.
There are a few ways for making this dish in Italy that depends from region to region. Our recipe replicates the stracotto alla romana. A traditional dish from Roman-Jewish cuisine.
The Italian word stracotto means overcooked because the meat is cooked for a long time until extremely tender that almost melts in your mouth. While manzo translates into beef, hence the recipe’s name stracotto di manzo.
Try also our recipe for braciole in tomato sauce, another traditional dish from Italy!
- Beef. I recommend using beef chuck because it has more connective tissue and collagen that will melt into the stew and add a wonderful flavor.
- Passata. This is a smooth tomato sauce usually sold in bottles, you can substitute it with canned tomato sauce or canned whole tomatoes (you will need to blend them tho).
- Onions. Added thinly sliced. Onions help to thicken the sauce and balance the acidity of the tomato sauce.
- Wine. As tradition calls it, a decent vino rosso (red wine) is mandatory. I don’t recommend using “cooking wine” because most of the time that’s just cheap low-quality wine.
- Oil. I highly recommend using a good quality extra virgin olive oil. As in many Italian recipes, this is a key ingredient for simple cooking.
- Seasonings & aromatics. Keep it simple by using only salt and pepper to taste, and a few bay leaves for a subtle aroma.
How To Make Stracotto Di Manzo
Peel the onion and thinly slice it. You can also use a mandolin to make this step easier and quicker.
Wash the meat, dry it with kitchen paper towels, and cut it into chunks. Generously season it with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large braising pan over medium-high heat.
Add the meat and cook stirring constantly until no longer pink (about 10 minutes).
Add the onion and sauté together with the meat for about 5 minutes or until the onion becomes slightly tender.
Pour the wine and mix well. Keep cooking for another 5 minutes stirring constantly.
Add the tomato passata sauce and pour water to lightly cover the meat. Add bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 3 hours, mixing from time to time and adding more water if needed.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye on the stew, if it dries too much it may stick to the bottom and burn, so add water whenever necessary.
When the meat will be extremely tender and the onions have melted into the stew, uncover the pan and allow the sauce to reduce to your desired consistency.
Adjust with salt and pepper then turn off the heat and let the stew sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Choose the right pan for making the dish. I like to use cast iron pans for cooking stews because they maintain their temperature over long periods of time without wasting energy.
- You don’t need expensive cuts for this dish. Actually, cheap cuts work better because they can handle long cooking amazingly.
- If you want to add extra flavor and aroma, use some aromatics like fresh or dried herbs. I used a few bay leaves but think of rosemary, thyme, or marjoram.
- Give stracotto di manzo the proper time to cook. The meat needs from 2.5 to 3 hours to fully cook and become incredibly tender.
Traditionally, stracotto di manzo is served as a main dish along with crusty bread. While the rich sauce is used to serve with pasta fresca (fettuccine, tonnarelli, etc).
In the Roman-Jewish tradition, this dish is served mostly for special occasions like the Shabbat, along with challah bread.
There is so much flavor in this recipe, you need a fairly plain side to go with it, think of noodles, steamed rice, or mashed potatoes. And best of all? You can even make sandwiches with the leftovers!
Store & Reheat
Leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and placed in a food container with a tight lid. After that, I recommend transferring it to the freezer where it will last up to 3 months.
I strongly recommend making a double batch of this recipe, it makes the perfect prep meal for busy nights and can be eaten in many ways.
For reheating, place in a pan, add a splash of water or beef stock to loosen up the flavorful sauce, and reheat while stirring from time to time.
More Italian Stew Recipes
Stracotto di Manzo
- 2.2 lb beef chuck (cut into chunks)
- 3 cups passata (or tomato sauce)
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 bay leaves (optional)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large braising pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink (about 10 minutes).
- Add the sliced onion and sauté together with the meat for about 5 minutes or until the onions become slightly tender.
- Pour the wine and mix well. Keep cooking for another 5 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add the tomato passata sauce and pour water to lightly cover the meat. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 3 hours, mixing from time to time and adding more water if needed.
- When the meat will be extremely tender and the onions have melted into the stew, uncover the pan and allow the sauce to reduce to your desired consistency.
- Adjust with salt and pepper then turn off the heat and let the stew sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer.
- This is a slow-cook recipe, the meat needs time to fully cook and become tender so the flavors will combine together into the sauce.
- Stracotto can be served with crusty bread or with your favorite pasta.