500g onions or small shallots, peeled & finely chopped
400g mushrooms, halved
Tip the beef into a large bowl with the bay leaves, thyme, wine and some pepper, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Place a colander over another large bowl and strain the marinated meat, keeping the wine. Pat the beef dry. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan, then brown the meat and bacon together in batches, transferring to a plate once browned. When all the meat is browned, pour a little wine into the now-empty frying pan and bubble to release any caramelised bits from the pan.
Heat the rest of the oil in a large casserole and fry the finely chopped celery and onions until they start to colour. Stir in the flour for 1 min, then add the tomato puree. Add the beef and any juices, the wine from the frying pan and the rest of the wine, bay leaves and herbs. Season and bring to a simmer. Give everything a good stir, then cover. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hr take out of the oven stir and add the sliced mushrooms, put back in the oven for another hour or until the meat is really tender.
This meal is ideal to be cooked the day before and simply needs to be warmed up slowly on the hob before serving. It is also ideal to freeze for up to 3 months.
To serve, defrost completely overnight in the fridge if frozen, then place on a low heat to warm through. Serve scattered with chopped parsley, some greens, a salad, rice or truly decadent, dauphinoise potatoes.