½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 8 slices)
1 cup hot water
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion minced
1 cup shredded carrots (about 1 carrot)
2 tablespoons chopped pancetta or bacon
3 pounds boneless beef stew meat (using Heritage Foods USA Pied Medallions), trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
Three or four 2-inch pieces of meaty veal shank, breast, or neck bones (optional)
1/3 cup flour (for dusting the meat and bones)
2 cups good, hearty red wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, or even better, a Barolo)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the dried porcini in 1 cup of the hot stock until softened, about 30 minutes. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Trim any hard bits from the mushrooms and rinse them briefly under cold water. Reserve the mushrooms and strained liquid separately.
Tie the bay leaves, rosemary and cloves securely together in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and lightly dust it with flour.
In a large, deep, nonreactive casserole or stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and pancetta and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook, continuing to stir, about five minutes more. Add the beef and the bones, if using, and stir until the liquid given off by the meat evaporates, and the meat is beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cheesecloth bundle of herbs and stir, then pour in the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mushrooms. Stir slowly until the tomato paste is evenly distributed, then stir in the reserved mushroom liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the half of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, adding the remaining stock a small about at a time to keep the level of liquid more or less the same, until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (sometimes longer for tougher cuts of meat).
When the guazzetto is finished, the sauce should be syrupy. If not, increase the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, toss cooked pasta in the sauce and serve immediately.