We tell our customers that the trick to a full-flavored stew is to cook it a day ahead of time. This one can be made with chuck, brisket, our our pre-cut Beef for Stew. If you buy chuck, ask the butcher for meat cut from the first 8 inches of the first cut of the chuck. Meat cut farther back on the chuck will be too tough for a really good stew or pot roast.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the beef cubes on all sides until nicely browned. Don't move the meat too much in the pot; let it sear so that it develops a nice browned crust. Transfer the beef cubes to a plate. Pour off the oil from the pot.
Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the stock and wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot.
Make a bouquet garni by tying the rosemary and parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth. Put the bouquet garni in the pot.
Cover the pot and braise in the oven for 2 hours and 15 minutes or until tender, stirring the stew several times.
Meanwhile, make the biscuit crust: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, cracked pepper, and salt together. Using your fingertips, a fork, or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the milk all at once and stir just until the dough comes together in a mass.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times, or just until cohesive. Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll or pat the dough into a circle or oval about 1/4 inch thick.
Remove the stew from the oven, uncover, and lay the dough on top. It will not fit perfectly or seal tightly. This is a rough topping. Brush the dough with the melted butter.
Return the stew to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
To serve, remove the crust from the pan and set aside. Serve the stew with the vegetables. Cut the crust into pieces and top the meat with the crust. Ladle sauce from the stew over the crust, meat, and vegetables. Garnish with minced parsley, if desired.