This was a heavenly stew with deep rich flavors. We loved it and since there are only two of us, we loved it a lot! I served it for lunch and dinner on subsequent days...and yes, I could have frozen it...but we loved eating it.
I combined two recipes to get the combination of ingredients that I wanted, but I used the technique and directions from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Around My French Table.
adapted from Around My French Table
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 3 1/2 pound beef chuck roast, fat and any sinews removed, cut into 2 to 3-inch cubes
2 Tbsp Canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
6 shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, bruised
1 1/2 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and halved or quartered length-wise
8 oz. small (button) Cremini mushrooms, left whole. If large, cut in half.
3 ribs celery
3/4 cup beef stock
1 1/2 T tomato past
2 T flour
1/4 cup Cognac
1 750-ml bottle fruity red wine (I used a Central Valley Syrah that was perfect!)
1 bouquet garni - 3-4 thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, leaves from 1 celery stalk, tied together in a dampened piece of cheesecloth
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack in center of oven.
Cook bacon in Dutch oven until browned. Transfer bacon to a bowl.
Dry the beef with paper towels. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the bacon fat and warm it over medium high heat, then brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Do not crowd in the pot. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl with the bacon and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Pour off the oil in the pot (don't remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan), add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and warm it over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery. Stir everything to cover with a little oil. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute, then stir in the flour. Pour in the brandy, turn up the heat, and stir well to loosen any bits on the bottom of the pot. Let the brandy boil for a minute, then return the beef and bacon to the pot, pour in the wine and beef broth, toss in the bouquet garni. Stir.
When the wine comes to a boil, cover the pot tightly with foil and the lid. Place in oven and allow to braise undisturbed for one hour.
Pull the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and foil and stir everything. Add the mushrooms to the pot. If it looks as though the liquid is reducing by a great deal (unlikely), add water to cover the ingredients. Re-cover the pot with the foil and the lid. Return to the oven and cook for another 1 1/2 hours (total cooking time is 2 1/2 hours). At this point the meat should be fork tender - if not, return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Taste the sauce. If you prefer the sauce to be more concentrated, pour it into a saucepan and boil over high heat reducing it to your preference. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Remove the bouquet garni and the garlic. Skim off the surface fat.
Serve the beef and vegetables moistened with the sauce.
This is the perfect comfort food!