Spiced Autumn Roast with Carrots, Celery and Mushrooms

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 My husband’s friend and colleague is on assignment in China while his family stayed back in Czech. I absolutely adore David, and insist that he get a homemade meal here as often as possbile.

It just so happens that David’s arrival coincides with my need to empty out my overflowing chest freezer. In a country where most people don’t even have a freezer I have not 1. Not 2. Not 3. But 4! Yes 4 freezers!! I have chicken, turkey, phyllo dough, ice cream, spices and pita bread stuffed into every shelf and corner as if I’m waiting for the apocalypse! Remember early in my blogging days when I told you I’m a food hoarder? I wasn’t joking. Ask my neighbors!

Why am I emptying out my freezer? We’re going away for Christmas so that gives me about 2 and 1/2 months to empty out the 4 freezers as much as possible. When I return from fun in the Vietnam sun I’ll reload the freezers to capacity don’t worry!

I recently accumulated enough points at Metro to get a very big and very red Dutch Oven, so I was so excited to break it in with what promised to be a mouthwatering recipe for Roast. I modified the flavors of the recipe quite a bit. My first modification was due to the fact that I live in China. The recipe calls for Hard Cider sometging easy enough to get in the USA or U.K. but here in Shanghai tha would at the least require a trip to Mark and Spencer. No time to go there I replaced the cider with 2 lunch box sized apple juice cartons. The juice added a lovely sweetness to the broth but perhaps taking away some of the rich flavor. I don’t know since I never tried it with Hard Cider so overall I was satisfied with the apple juice substitute. If yo can get your hands on nonalcoholic apple cider I’m sure that will taste even better.

I added star anise, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick to the broth in order to richen the broth and add some of the flavors lost from not having cider. I also added celery because I love it after it becomes soft and full of rich brothy flavor.

Spiced Autumn Roast with Carrots, Celery and Mushrooms


  • 3-3 1/2 pound boneless beef chuck roast
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 8 oz. medium-sized whole button mushrooms, halved
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1” to 2” pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in 3″ pieces
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups hard cider, apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 1/2 c. beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. An hour before starting to cook, remove the roast from the refrigerator. Rinse it and pat it dry with paper towels. Place on a plate and sprinkle fairly generously all over with kosher salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat the bottom of a 5 to 7-quart French oven with a thin film of olive oil and set the pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, put meat in the pot and let it cook, without moving it, until it is deeply browned on the bottom and lifts easily from the pot when turned. This should take about 8 minutes or so. Continue to brown all sides of the meat, turning as needed. Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add mushrooms, onions, celery and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring, until softened. This should take about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme and cloves. Then pour in hard cider and beef broth. Stir to release browned bits on the pan bottom. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, whole cloves and star anise. Let mixture come to a boil, then return meat and any accumulated juices to pot.
  4. Cover pot and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning meat over once about halfway through cooking, until meat is tender and pulls apart easily when prodded with a fork, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours

 You can easily make a rich gravy with the broth. Served with mashed potatoes and gravy, salad and French Onion Soup, this dinner was a wonderful success and perfect for even a Monday night dinner.

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