- 1/4 lb bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1 (4-inch) piece of celery
- 4 fresh parsley stems (no leaves)
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves (not California)
- 2 cloves
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (preferably Burgundy or Cotes du Rhone)
- 1 lb small (1 1/2-inch) boiling onions or pearl onions
- 1 lb mushrooms, quartered if large
- Accompaniment: peeled boiled potatoes tossed with butter and parsley
- Special equipment: kitchen string
Cook bacon in boiling salted water 3 minutes, then drain.
Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Divide flour and beef between 2 (1-quart) sealable plastic bags, seal, then shake to coat meat.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef well on all sides in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, adding remaining tablespoon oil as needed. Transfer to a bowl.
Pour off any excess oil from pot, then add brandy to pot. Deglaze by boiling over high heat 1 minute, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then pour over beef.
Tie celery, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and cloves together with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni (tuck cloves into celery so they don't fall out).
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in cleaned pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute bacon, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chopped onions, garlic, and carrots, then saute, stirring, until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine, meat with juices, and bouquet garni and simmer gently, partially covered, until meat is tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
While meat simmers, blanch boiling onions in boiling salted water 1 minute and drain in a colander. Rinse under cold running water, then peel.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute boiling onions, stirring occasionally, until browned in patches. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water (1 1/2 cups if using pearl onions), then simmer, partially covered, until onions are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat remaining tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring, until golden brown and any liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir onions and mushrooms into stew and cook 10 minutes. Remove bouquet garni and skim any fat from surface of stew. Season with salt and pepper.
Cooks' note: Boeuf bourguignon may be made 1 day ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered (it tastes even better made ahead because it gives the flavors time to develop). If making ahead, it's easier to remove fat from surface after chilling.
Yield: 8 servings