3 lbs beef chuck
Optional 1/2 cup brandy
Optional 2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 bottle full-bodied dry red wine (Bordeaux, Cabernet, Zinfandel)
2 celery ribs
2 large carrots, or about 12 baby carrots
1 head garlic
12 oz baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 pound pearl (boiling) onions
1 tablespoon tomato paste, or 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups beef stock, optional
2 pounds baby potatoes
Before you begin cooking, wash the onions, carrots and celery. Cut celery and carrots into 1/4 inch thick pieces, dice the 2 regular onions and mince the garlic. Set aside.
Mix flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in Ziploc bag.
Cut chuck into 1/2 inch thick square chunks and coat with flour mixture.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan over medium-high heat, being careful not to burn the butter. Add meat pieces in 2 batches and brown well on all sides. (If you cannot brown every side, it is not the end of the world, it'll do). Remove meat and put in bowl.
Add brandy to and let simmer about 5 minutes to deglaze the pan, scraping up any beef or bacon fat left in pan. Pour over beef chunks.
In large stew pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add the prepared vegetables to the pan and saute about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook one more minute. If using canned diced tomatoes, add to pan after vegetables have been cooking for 5 minutes and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add meat and juices to pan. Add 1 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1 teaspoon thyme. Liberally add freshly ground pepper. Pour bottle of wine over everything. Turn heat to medium until stew begins to simmer. When first bubbles appear, turn heat down to medium low to maintain a simmer but avoid boiling. This level of heat will dissolve tough collagenous tissue but reserve natural meat juices. Cook at a simmer for about 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. If stew looks dry, add beef stock as needed.
Cut ends off of pearl onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes in boiling water. Strain and run cold water over onions. Let cook, then peel. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in saute pan and cook onions over medium-high heat until onions are golden. Add to stew.
Wash mushrooms, cut off stems and slice thinly. Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms about 8 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms to stew.
Cook stew additional 30 minutes at simmer.
While stew is simmering, boil large pot of salted water and cook potatoes until tender or a knife can easily pierce them. Rinse with cold water and remove peel and cut potatoes in half.
Place potatoes on large plate and top with beef stew.