Based on Anthony Bourdain's version from his Les Halles cookbook
2 lb stewing steak, cut into 1.5 inch cubes. No fancy cuts, and no lean meat -- you want 20% fat.
1/4 cup olive oil
4 onions, or 3 if they are ginormous; chop into a 1/4" or so dice
2 tbsp flour
1 cup burgundy -- it doesn't have to be great, but you're going to end up drinking the rest of the bottle, so don't skimp too much.
6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bouquet garni -- a couple bay leaves, some thyme and Italian (flat-leaf) parsley wrapped up in a little cheesecloth bag
additional flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper
2 big spoonfuls of demi-glace (optional).
Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom metal pan (important: don't use non-stick, or try to brown all of the meat in multiple pans at once; you want to build up a nice fond in your cooking pot, as well as render the meat fat and juices for your stew) heat the oil on high until it is shimmery, but before it starts smoking. Add a portion (probably a quarter or so) of the meat and brown it well on all sides. You need to leave space between all the chunks of beef in the pan so that they will sear and brown. If you crowd the meat in the pan, it will steam and turn grey instead. Take out the meat as it finishes and set aside. Depending on the size of your pot, this could take 3-6 batches.
When you're done with the meat, throw the onions in the pot and lower the heat to a medium-high. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Sprinkle the flour over them, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Then add the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the fond off the bottom of the pan.
When the wine has gotten to boiling, add the meat back to the pot, along with the carrots, garlic, and bouquet garni (as well as the demi glace if you have it). Add enough water to cover the meat by about half (e.g., if your meat and veg take up 4 inches in the pot, you want the water to come up to about 6 inches in the pot.) Bring this to a boil, and the turn it down to a simmer for about 2.5 hours, give or take. The onions and garlic will completely disappear into the broth, which should start to thicken toward the end. The remaining wine should disappear into you and your guests' gullets.
Every 15-20 minutes, check on the dish -- ladle off any foamy or scummy looking brack on the surface of the stew, stir it, and scrape any fond from the pan. When done, remove the bouquet garni, ladle into shallow bowls with maybe a boiled new potato or noodles, and garnish with some chopped flat parsley.
Makes about 8 servings. Fortunately, it reheats well; you can add additional wine or water if needed the second day.