Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables
Serves 6

Butternut squash is added to this thick, meaty stew for sweetness and its natural thickening ability. Refrigerating the stew overnight will further improve the flavor, while making it easier to remove excess fat. Buttermilk biscuits and parslied rice make perfect accompaniments.

1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz/75 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
3 lb (1.5 kg) beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) cubes
5 tablespoons (3 fl oz/80 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) red wine vinegar
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) beef stock
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) dry red wine
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh sage sprig or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
1 lb (500 g) butternut (pumpkin) squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
10 oz (315 g) pearl onions, peeled fresh or thawed frozen
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Spread the flour on a large plate. Coat the beef with the flour and shake off the excess.

In a large, heavy nonstick pot over medium-high heat, warm 4 tablespoons (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef and brown evenly on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate.

Add the vinegar to the pot and deglaze over medium-high heat by stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the pot bottom. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the yellow onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

Add the carrots to the pot and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Then add the beef stock, wine, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, parsley and sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is almost tender, 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours.

Add the butternut squash, cover and continue to simmer until both the squash and meat are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Add the pearl onions and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the salt, pepper and parsley.

Spoon onto warmed individual plates or bowls and serve immediately.