Spread the beef out on a baking sheet and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour. Transfer the beef to a fine mesh strainer and shake off any excess flour.
Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Pour in enough oil to reach about 1/3 of an inch up the sides. Add half of the beef and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until well-browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate, leaving the oil in the Dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining beef. Drain the oil and wipe out the pan.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Return the Dutch oven to medium-high heat, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Saute the onion, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and caraway and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes more. Add the beef and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Using a piece of kitchen twine, tie together the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and add to the pot. Braise in the oven, covered, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes. Skim the fat from the surface of cooking liquid with a ladle. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, on top of the stove, stirring occasionally, until liquid has thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a sauce-like consistency and the beef is very tender, about 20 minutes more. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and season with pepper to taste. Remove and discard the herb bundle.
Divide among bowls and serve with Buttered Egg Noodles with Parsley, rice, or sauerkraut. Pass sour cream at the table.
Buttered Egg Noodles with Parsley:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, ladle 1/4 cup of the noodle cooking water into a medium skillet. Set the skillet over low heat and, while whisking constantly, gradually add the butter, piece by piece, (let each piece of butter melt into the sauce before adding the next bit) until a smooth sauce has formed. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon zest if desired.
Drain the noodles in a colander in the sink and leave whatever water clings to them--do not rinse. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, add the sauce, and toss until well-coated. Serve.
Yield: about 4 to 6 side dish servings
Beef chuck is the choice for any type of stew. If you can't find chuck cubed for stew in your meat department, buy a thick steak and cut it into 2-inch cubes yourself.
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