In the centre of the cheesecloth, place the thyme, bay leaves, parsley and the black pepper. Tie it up with the string to make it into a sachet. Set it aside.
Place the meat into a large bowl. Then add the carrots, garlic, celery and the sachet. Pour over the red wine. Cover with some cling film. Place it into the fridge overnight to marinate.
Set your oven to 325ºf (170ºc).
Separate the ingredients: once your meat has marinated, unwrap it. Pour it through the
Sieve into a separate bowl. Remove the sachet and put the meat onto a tray, leaving the
Liquid in the bowl.
With some kitchen towel, pat the meat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Dust with the flour (optional). Mix it all in with your hands, to ensure that all the meat cubes are well coated.
Place a saucepan onto a high heat and warm through. Add some oil and a knob of butter.
When melted, add the meat in with your tongs. You will have to cook it in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Take your time to brown the meat nicely on all sides, as it will give the meat a deeper flavour. Once browned, remove the meat and place onto a tray. Add some more oil and butter if needed before browning the remaining meat.
When all the meat has browned add the bacon and let it fry a bit. Add the vegetables from the marinade and let them cook a little.
Add the tomato purée and mix it in. Add the brandy and spoon all the meat back into the pan, depending on the size of your pan. Cover it with the red wine that the meat was marinated in, the beef stock and the herb sachet. Bring it to a simmer and skim any nasty looking foam. Cover it with the lid. Put it into the oven to cook for two and a half to three hours.
While the stew is cooking, place a frying pan on high heat. Add some oil and a some butter. Add all the mushrooms, depending on the size of your pan. Toss them occasionally to help them brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Add more butter and oil as needed.
When nicely browned remove them from the pan. Place the pan back onto the heat. Add a little more butter. Add the pearl onions and let them brown a little. Remove them from the pan and place alongside the mushrooms.
30 minutes before the beef is ready add the mushrooms and the onions to the pan. Cook for the remaining time with the pan uncovered.
When cooked, remove it from the oven. Take out the sachet and discard. Sprinkle in the parsley. Serve as a hearty meal on its own or with some fluffy mashed potatoes.