2 1/2 – 3 pound beef chuck roast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Black peppercorns in a peppermill
1 1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as syrah, merlot or Cotes-du-Rhone
1 – 2 cups beef or chicken broth or water
2 bay leaves and 4 sprigs each thyme and rosemary, tied into a bundle with string
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
1 cup chopped leeks
1 fennel bulb, stems and tough outer layers trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Grated fresh orange zest (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center.
Trim the beef of excess fat and and slice into 3-inch chunks. Season the beef evenly with 2 teaspoons salt.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Sear the beef in batches until browned. Remove to a platter.
Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot to the pot. Cook 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until it’s softened. Return the beef to the pot and sprinkle with flour. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, wine, 1 teaspoon salt and 15 turns of the pepper mill.
Bring to a simmer, then add enough broth to just cover the beef. Toss in the herb bundle. Cover the pot with a sheet of parchment or foil, then top with the pot lid.
Place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. The cooking liquid will be slightly reduced and the meat should fall apart when prodded with a fork.
Put the carrots, leeks and fennel in a large skillet with 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over high heat until the water boils. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender but still colorful, about 10 minutes.
Just before serving, stir the vegetables into the stew. Taste for seasoning Sprinkle with parsley and about a teaspoon fresh orange zest. Serve over wide egg noodles, parmesan polenta or with crusty bread alongside.