2.5cupsbeef stockadd a little more if the beef and potatoes look dry!
1tablespooncornstarchstirred into 3 tablespoons water to make a slurry (optional for a thicker gravy)
Brown beef: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook about 30 seconds on either side, until browned.
Sauté vegetables: Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and carrots to the skillet and stir well. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook until they're starting to soften.
Deglaze the pan: Stir the tomato paste into the skillet and cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the red wine. Allow the wine to cook away before sprinkling the flour over the beef and vegetables. Stir it in very well, until no white spots remain.
Cook: Pour the stock into the skillet and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaf, if using. Allow to come to a boil before stirring in the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the skillet to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
Thicken: Finally, stir the cornstarch slurry into the skillet (be quick or it won't work) and simmer until gravy has thickened. Double the cornstarch if you like a thick gravy.
If you have a really hungry family to feed, you can add another 1/2 pound of potatoes. Just make sure to add an extra 1/2 cup of broth if you're using these extra! You can always thicken the sauce later with some extra cornstarch stirred into cold water if it's too watery.And if you always seem to have too little food, make sure to have some bread on hand to mop up all the delicious sauce. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good idea either way!