- 1Cut the beef into big chunks, about 2 inches square. Trim off and discard any big pieces of fat. Put the beef in a large bowl, along with the onion you’ve got stuck with cloves, the strips of orange zest, 1 of the herb bouquets, the brandy, and wine. Cover and stick it in the refrigerator to marinate at least 8 hours (24 hours will be even better).
- 2Strain, reserving the marinade and the onion. Discard the zest and herb bouquet.
- 3Dry the beef well (damp meat sticks when you brown it) and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide saucepan or a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the meat—in batches, so you don’t crowd and steam the beef. Remove the pieces as they brown and keep them in a bowl; add a bit more oil to the pan should you need it.
- 4While the meat browns, take the cloves out of the marinade onion and discard them. Slice that onion thin. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and all the sliced onions to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and cook the onions, stirring once in a while, until they are very soft and beginning to turn gold at the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste turns brick red, which will take a minute or two.
- 5Put the beef and any juices that have accumulated into the pan, along with the reserved marinade and the other herb bouquet. Give the stew a stir and add the carrots, burying them in the marinade. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the stew simmers gently, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef and carrots are fork-tender.
- 6If you’ve made the stew for serving tomorrow, let it cool before you refrigerate it, covered. Pull off any congealed fat, which will be a lovely orange, before reheating.
- 7If you’re serving the stew today, tilt the pan and spoon off the fat.
- 8Stir in the zest right before you serve the stew.
Beverage pairing: Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas, France. A hearty, beefy stew wants a full, rich red wine. Lots of things could work, but the mélange of vegetables, spice, and zest suggests something with a bright, well-spiced fruit component, and Gigondas, a Rhône wine made from Grenache, always hits those high notes. It also has enough structure and muscle to make an ample foil for the tender meat.