8 ounce piece of bacon (or thick-cut bacon) cut into ½-inch pieces
3 pounds stewing beef
1 carrot, ½-inch diced
1 onion, ¼-inch diced
1 tablespoon flour
1 bottle Bordeaux or Burgundy
4 ounces Cognac
4 cups beef stock, divided
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
24 pearl onions
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup beef stock (reserved from above)
1 bay leaf
½ pound button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
½ pound cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large Dutch oven, sauté the bacon in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 3 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard or leave it in the pan if desired.
Dry the beef well on paper towels. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In batches, sear the beef on all sides in the Dutch oven. Set aside. In the same pot, add the carrots and onions; sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and Cognac to the pot. Add the meat back into the pan. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cover with all but ½-cup of the beef stock. The liquid should just cover the meat and vegetables. Bring to a light simmer on the stove, then cover and simmer in the lower part of the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender to a knife tip.
During the last 30 minutes of cooking, prepare the mushrooms and onions. Add butter and oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and cook, shaking the pan, until they begin to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sugar, a pinch of salt, bay leaf and thyme, shaking the pan until the onions are golden brown. Add in ½-cup beef stock simmer, reducing the liquid until it is a shiny, thick glaze.
In a separate sauté pan, add oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until all of the liquid has cooked out of the mushrooms and dissolved. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the finished stew and taste for seasoning.