This meal is just too good not to share with you. I made it for Christmas dinner when my sister’s family was visiting for a week in December. I’m looking forward to making it again for Sunday supper soon. Missy actually inspired me to look into creating this meal from the various visits to Ohio. She is a great cook, and she likes to make a red sauce with her roasts that comes from her mother in law’s recipe book. I was browsing through my most favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, and stumbled upon Stracotto, or Italian pot roast. I was delighted to see that I had all of the ingredients already in my pantry or fridge, I just had to get the roast. I love the narrative style of the recipes in this classic, so I’ll honor the late Irma Rombauer by presenting the recipe in this way:

8-10 servings
Mince together:
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
4 fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Set aside half the mixture, and mix the rest with:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Make about 10 deep slits in:
1 boneless beef pot roast (4 to 5 pounds)
Stuff the slits with the herb and oil mixture. Heat in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat:
3 tablespoons olive oil
Add the roast and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Do not let it scorch. Remove the roast to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Sprinkle the roast with:
1 teaspoon of salt
Return the pot to the heat and add:
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib with leaves, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Cook, stirring until the onion is lightly browned. Stir in the remaining herb mixture and cook for 30 seconds. Add and boil until the pot is almost dry:
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Stir in and boil until reduced to less than 1/2 cup:
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
Add the roast, along with:
One 28-once can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
Bring to a a gentle simmer and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, so that the liquid just barely simmers, and cook for about 2 1/2 hours. Turn the roast every 30 minutes or so. When the meat is tender, remove it to a platter and cover it with aluminum foil to keep warm. Skim off any fat from the surface of the liquid and remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning. if the sauce seems thin, boil it down for a few minutes. Slice the meat about 1/4 inch thick and moisten it with the braising liquid.

A few years ago I planted a Rosemary bush in my backyard, and it has thrived and spread. I LOVE the smell of Rosemary and cut stems freshen up a room and add a Whole Foodsish touch to the decor. Kidding aside, it was cool to use fresh herbs for the meal. I didn't have or use sage. I think I just substituted dried basil for it. 

My husband loves sweet potato casserole. It's a side dish here, but I'm telling you, it could be a dessert. The crunchy pecan topping is enough reason to include it on your plate. The orange color of the southern staple paired well with the bright green snap beans sautéed in butter and almonds. You can make the sweet potato dish the day before and then bake it the next day, and the beans are a snap to make! 

Later that night with my biscotti and tea, it was a treat to reflect on our home, our dinner, and special family that shared life with us that day and that week. It is a beautiful thing when our home, our food, and our relationships are transformed right before our eyes through one event. Plan to draw family or friends close and let them know how much they mean to you, even if you don't make Irma's Italian pot roast.