Feeds 6-8

3 pounds beef chuck stew meat, cubed and preferably organic and/or local
vegetable oil for searing meat
2 onions. peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil (if in salt rinse off excess)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 bottle of red wine (I used a $9.99 zinfandel)
1 cup water
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of parsley
14 ounce can of tomatoes (whole or diced)
10 large carrots, trimmed and sliced into 3 inch chunks (or leave them whole if carrots are small)

toppings (any or all of the following):
yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche
pomegranate seeds
pomegranate syrup
chopped parsley
fleur de sel
toasted pine nuts
chopped cilantro
olive oil

serve over:
pasta, couscous, polenta, or rice

Spread cubes of meat out on a sheet pan, dry them very well, and season all over with lots of salt and pepper. Put a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Crank the heat as high as it goes.  Add just enough oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pot. Add enough of the meat chunks so that they're not overlapping and sear them until brown and caramelized on all sides. Don't overcrowd the meat or it will steam and not brown. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and put it back on the sheet pan and continue the same way until all the meat is seared. Add more oil to the pot if you need to. Set meat aside.

Turn heat down to medium and add the onions. Scrape up all the fat and goodies left over in the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until onions are soft and nicely browned. Add flour and cook for a minute, stirring the whole time. Add garlic, tomato paste, anchovy, cumin and paprika. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring the whole time. Add the whole bottle of wine plus one cup water. Throw in all the herbs and the canned tomatoes. Add the seared meat and the carrots. Bring up to a boil. Turn down heat to low and cover the pot. Stir it every 20 minutes or so. It's done when the meat is falling apart. This can take anywhere from 2-4 hours. If the stew is too soupy when the meat it done, reduce it down at the end with the lid off. Also make sure to check the seasoning. I needed to add a bit more salt and pepper. Remove remaining sprigs of thyme and parsley and the bay leaf. Serve over pasta, couscous, polenta, or rice. Have bowls of selected toppings at the table.