Tony's Fantastic Beef Stew

This recipe is actually adapted from the cookbook "Cooking Provence," by Antoine Bouterin, but Tony is the one who told us about it. And it's SO good! Worth the little extra work and the slightly longer ingredients list. For the final cooking, you can simmer on the stove, dump everything into the crockpot and forget about it, or transfer to an ovenproof pot and bake in the oven at 325f for about two hours, covered. All the vegetables can be cut into bite-size pieces, for a very appealing and easy-to-eat dinner (or breakfast!).

2-4 lbs. stew beef (I brined ours in the fridge overnight in a big bowl with plenty of water and 1/4 c. salt, then rinsed and patted it dry before continuing with the recipe)
1/4 c. fat
1 lg. onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 lg. tomatoes, diced
2 leeks, white and tender green parts, well-washed and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks (optional)
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons (optional)
10-20 mushrooms, sliced
4-6 carrots, sliced
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves, partially crumbled
3 whole cloves
1 2-inch strip orange peel
2 T. tomato paste
2 c. dry red wine
3 c. chicken stock, beef stock, or water (plus more as needed)
1 bunch fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dry)
Salt and pepper (might not need any salt if you've brined the meat)
2 medium zucchinis, quartered and cut into 3-inch sticks
8 sm. potatoes (optional)

In a large soup pot, brown the meat in 2 T. fat; temporarily remove the meat from the pot.

In remaining fat, saute the onion till golden.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, leeks, rutabaga, kale, and celery and cook for five more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the mushrooms and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, till slightly softened (about five more minutes).

Add meat, nutmeg, bay leaves, cloves, orange peel, and tomato paste, and mix well.

Add wine, and cook on high for a couple of minutes. Next add stock/water to cover, and basil, season, and bring to a boil. Add zucchini and potatoes, and simmer everything for an hour or two or more (depending on your stove, and the size of your soup pot), until everything is perfectly cooked. Season further with salt and pepper if necessary, and enjoy!