Stracotto (Beef Braised with Tomatoes)

Micaela Pavoncello

3 hours and 30 minutes

6-8 servings

Chunks of beef in tomato sauce on white rectangular plate

Photo by Penny De Los Santos

In Micaela Pavoncello’s family, everyone helps with cooking dishes like riso all’uovo or creamy rice and roasted lamb with potatoes for Passover Seder at her home in Rome. Her recipe for stracotto, or tender braised beef in tomato sauce, is wonderful for the holiday—or anytime you’re entertaining—since you can start cooking it well before the meal and let it simmer for hours as you spend time with guests. Serve it with her braised spring vegetables called vignarola and Roman-style artichokes

Read about Micaela’s family on our partner the Jewish Food Society’s archive. And learn about her Jewish walking tours of Rome.


2 pounds beef chuck filet, cut into 1½ – 2 inch pieces

¼ cup olive oil 

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 24-ounce bottles tomato passata

  1. Season the beef pieces with 1½ teaspoon salt and 1½ teaspoon pepper. 
  2. Place a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add ⅓ cup of oil. Once the oil is sizzling, add as many pieces of beef that can fit in one single layer. Sear the beef until the pieces are golden-brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer on to a plate and continue searing the rest of the beef in batches. 
  3. Transfer the beef from the pot. 
  4. Add the onions into the pot and cook until they have softened and are lightly golden, 10-12 minutes. 
  5. Place the beef back into the pot with the onions and stir, then carefully add the tomato passata and the remaining salt and pepper into the pan. The beef should be completely covered with passata. 
  6. Stir the mixture and let it cook at medium for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is actively simmering.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pot. Cook on a gentle simmer for 3 hours until the sauce has thickened and the beef is very tender and falls apart.
  8. Serve the stracotto hot with matzo.