I make this stew in an enameled cast iron dutch oven and I do believe it makes all the difference. It turns out delicious every time.
First I brown the bacon until crispy and remove it from the pan and leave the drippings.
Now brown the beef on all sides. Sprinkle pepper and salt on the meat while browning. After all pieces are browned on the outside, remove them from the pot.
Add 1/2 the stick of butter to the pot and sprinkle in about a tablespoon of olive oil. The olive oil is optional but I believe it does add to the flavor. Add in the onions and saute until softened; then add garlic and continue to saute until it is softened. I use a couple of tablespoons jarred chopped garlic but fresh is fine too. Remove these from the pot and set aside.
Add the mushrooms and more butter and olive oil if needed. Saute until browned and remove. Add and saute carrots until softened.
Add the beef and all vegetables back to the pot. Add 2 cups of water and bullion to pot - beef stock may also be substituted as well. I use 4 cubes. Bring this to a boil and add 4 tablespoons of tomato paste, 3 cups of wine or cooking wine, salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste and stir well to combine. If the mixture does not have enough liquid, add more stock until it almost covers the meat.
Add the bacon back to the top of the pot along with the bay leaves. Cover and place in the center of the oven and cook for 2-2/12 at 350 degrees. I normally do not open the oven or lift the lid during this time.
After the stew is tender and done, place back on the stove top and skim about 3 tablespoons of the broth into a jar along with 6 tablespoons of flour or corn starch (whichever you prefer) and mix together. Add more water or stock to make about a cup. Stir the stew completely and add the thickener. Simmer on the stove top stirring regularly until the stew is thickened and ready to serve. We usually service with white rice and crusty bread. It is also great with egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!