I haven’t done much to this earthy classic-why tamper with perfection? Serve it in deep bowls over buttered noodles with parsley for a soul-satisfying winter meal.
Place a large, heavy pot over medium heat and drizzle in a 1-count of oil. Fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes, then remove it to paper towels to drain, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. When cool, crumble the bacon and set aside.
Working in batches, add the beef to the pot and brown well on all sides over high heat, about 10 minutes per batch. Season each batch with a generous amount of salt and pepper and transfer to a plate while you brown the remaining beef cubes.
Return all the beef cubes to the pot and sprinkle with the flour, stirring to make sure the pieces are well coated. Pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook over high heat until the Cognac has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Pour in the red wine and beef broth; then add the tomato paste and bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the liquid has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms to the pot along with the sugar (to balance out the acid from the red wine). Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer 30 to 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Discard the bouquet garni, then stir in the butter to give the sauce a rich flavor and beautiful shine. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and the reserved bacon before serving.
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