Beef Stew

This is the most basic kind of beef stew there is. Actually, in my opinion, it's also one of the best kinds of beef stew there is. :) But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself and see what you think.

3 lbs stewing beef
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup full bodied dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock, or broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1" sections

1. Put a heavy pot on medium-high heat, adding the vegetable oil.
2. Toss in the beef and brown well on all sides. As the beef cooks, sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
3. Remove the browned beef and set aside.
4. Add the onions and cook until soft, or about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and cook another minute or so.
5. Add flour and cook, stirring, about 1 minute, making sure the flour doesn't stick anywhere and burn. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the pan, then pour in stock, bay leaves and thyme.
6. Warm to a simmering boil. Add meat and wait for the stew to reach a simmering boil again, then cover and simmer on very low heat for about 1 hour.
7. Add carrots and celery, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots and meat are tender and the potatoes are looking mushy. Remove bay leaves. It's better the day after, but I dare you not to try some now!
8. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley if you like, just before serving, and serve with some good crusty bread to soak up the sauce.