First slice the meat off the bones. Reserve the bones and trim the meat of only the hard bits of sinew and the large bits of fat, but leave some fat as it offers the most flavour. Now cut the meat into rustic chunk about 4 cm. Place the meat in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge until required.
Cover the bottom of a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and heat until smoking hot. Quickly brown the bones of the meat and remove from pan. Add the onions and the bacon. Stir quickly to prevent catching. Add the carrots and celery and sauté until everything is nicely browned. Add the brown mushrooms and stir fry until they have released their juices. Return the bones to the pan and pour in sufficient boiling water to more-than-cover the food in the saucepan. Add the sachet of concentrated stock, the tomato paste, red wine, bay leaves, garlic, stock cubes and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for an hour. Strain the stock into a clean bowl. Push the vegetable mixture against the strainer to extract as much of the stock as possible. You do not need the vegetable and bones mixture any longer so do what you deem fit with it. Set aside the stock.
In another saucepan, add some olive oil. Brown the meat in batches. Return all the meat to the pan and add the stock. Make sure that the meat is covered with liquid at all times. You really want a saucy stew so if the stock is too little to cover the meat, add more red wine. Bring to a boil, remove any solids or scum that rise to the top, reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour or more until the meat is tender enough to your liking.
Meanwhile heat some olive oil and brown the baby onions all over. Add the mushrooms and brown as well. Once the meat is tender, add the onions and mushrooms and continue to cook another ten minute or so until the onions are tender.
Finally, mix together the melted butter and flour and add spoons full of this paste to the simmering stew, stirring until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Now taste and adjust reasoning with salt, milled black pepper and even chopped thyme and minced garlic. Stir in the parsley or basil and scatter with the whole herb leaves. Serve with creamy horseradish mashed potato and steamed broccoli.
Chef’s hint: you can use beef shin meat as a superb alternative. It is full of connective tissue and a little marbled fat to ensure moisture, flavour and taste.
Reprinted with permission of I Love Cooking
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