Hot cooked rice or noodles (optional). Prepare bouquet garni; set side.
Melt butter in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Add onions and bacon; cook, stirring often, until onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. lift out onions and bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add beef to pan, a portion at a time (do not crowd pan). Cook, turning as needed, until well browned on all sides. If using brandy, move pan into an open area, away from exhaust fans and flammable items. Add brandy to pan and ignite; shake or tilt pan until flame dies.
Return all meat to pan; add burgundy, garlic, mushrooms, the 1 1/2 cups water, bouquet garni, onions, and bacon. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat, mushrooms, and onions to a serving dish; keep warm.
Pour meat juices through a fine wire strainer set over a medium-size pan; discard residue in strainer.
In a small bowl, mix flour and the 1/2 cup water to make a smooth paste. Stir flour mixture into meat juices; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. If made ahead, let cool; then cover and refrigerate until next day. To reheat, transfer to a baking dish; cover and bake in a 350° F oven until bubbly and heated through, about 35 minutes.
Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles, if desired.Servings: 8