This French stew, first made famous in America by Julia Child, is the perfect dinner for those cold winter nights.
Step 1: Boil the bacon Cook the bacon in boiling salted water in the saucepan for 3 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
Step 2: Coat the beef Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper. Then coat the beef with the flour, in two batches, by shaking them together in a 1-quart plastic bag.
Step 3: Brown the beef Brown the beef in 1 tablespoon oil plus 1½ tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat in the stewpot. Then move the browned beef to the mixing bowl.
TIP: Do not overcrowd the beef. Brown in two or three batches, adding oil if needed.
Step 4: Deglaze the pot Pour out any remaining oil and add the brandy to the pot. Boil the brandy over high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly while scraping the browned bits. Then pour the deglazing liquid over the beef.
Step 5: Make a bouquet garni Strip the leaves from the parsley stems and set them aside. With kitchen string, tie the stems, celery, thyme, cloves, and bay leaves together.
TIP: Stick the cloves into the celery stalk so they won't fall out.
Step 6: Saute the bacon and vegetables Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pot. Add the boiled bacon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Finely chop the onions and garlic, and cut the carrot into ¼-inch slices. Saute the vegetables for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.
Step 7: Add the meat Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Then add the wine, tied herbs, and the meat with deglazing liquid. Add enough stock to just cover the meat. Simmer for 3½ to 4 hours, partially covered, until tender.
Step 8: Cook the onions Lightly brown the boiling onions with 1 tablespoon butter in the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, until they're tender. Then reduce for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 9: Cook the mushrooms and potatoes Saute the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter for 8 minutes, until the liquid evaporates. Then add the new potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and boil until tender.
Step 10: Serve Season the boiled potatoes with the remaining butter and the reserved parsley leaves. Stir the onions and mushrooms into the stew. Remove the tied herbs and skim off any fat. Serve with the potatoes. Bon appetit!
FACT: Before she became one of the world's best-known chefs, Julia Child aspired to be a spy.