This was a complicated recipe in Gourmet that I simplified with help from other reviews. It definitely improves with age, so make it a day ahead if you can.
1 – 1.5 pounds boneless beef chuck (not lean), cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, quartered
2 celery ribs, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 ½ - 2 cups dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
2 – 5 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
6 - 8 small heirloom boiling potatoes, cut in bite sized pieces
6- 8 carrots, sliced diagonally 1 inch wide
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown meat, without crowding (in batches if necessary) turning, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.
Reduce heat to medium, then add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 12 minutes. Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook paste, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir into vegetables. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in wine, bay leaf, and thyme and boil until wine is reduced by about two-thirds, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 cups stock to pot along with water, beef, and any juices from platter and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in oven until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
Remove from oven and take out large vegetable chunks with tongs.
Add potatoes and carrots to stew (along with enough additional stock to submerge them) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 40 minutes.