Heat a bit of oil in a large soup pot and brown the meat in batches.
This step is a bit time-consuming but browning the meat adds depth and dimension to the stew. (Note: it’s important not to crowd the pan — if you try to brown all the meat at once, it will steam instead of sear and you won’t get all that lovely color and flavor.)
Remove the meat and add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. The vinegar will loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add flavor.
Cook until the vegetables are softened, then add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more.
Add the beef back into the pan and sprinkle with the flour.
Stir until the flour is dissolved.
Add the wine, broth, water, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar.
Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the carrots and potatoes.
Return to the oven and continue cooking for one hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, the broth is thickened, and the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can leave out the potatoes and serve it over buttered egg noodles, or toss in some frozen peas or sautéed mushrooms at the very end. Either way, it’s soul-satisfying comfort food for a cold night.
Huge mistakes everyone makes when cooking beef stew.