This classic French country stew is perfect for the cold weather months. Hearty, but not heavy, it combines the perfect marriages of cozy winter vegetables like carrots, onions, and parsnips with the comforting flavor of beef, bacon, and a touch of cognac. It also keeps very well for leftovers, so you can make this the day before and just refrigerate overnight, too.
Add the wine and enough beef broth to just cover all the meat and vegetables. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cover, remove from the stove top, and place in the oven to continue cooking for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the vegetables are cooked through. Remove from the oven and place back on the stovetop over medium low heat.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of melted butter with the flour until a thick paste forms. Stir this paste into the stew until it disintegrates, then add the frozen pearl onions.
In a several medium pot, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat until they darken and become slightly wrinkled, about 6-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the stew and lower the heat to a simmer.
Allow to cook for another 20 minutes before removing from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh thyme, and serve immediately.
Adapted from Ina Garten