Wow. Delicious. I'm not sure what I did, exactly, but it was the right way to go.
Let's see. I coated the beef in a flour/cornmeal/herb mixture and fried it before putting it into the pot. I used a beer as part of the base. Half the vegetables (onion, celery, carrot) were added chopped to the pot, and half were diced and cooked on the stove for half an hour first, with garlic and in a little bit of butter and vinegar. Sweet potatoes were used in addition to regular potatoes. A touch of red pepper flakes was added to give just a little bite. I'm sure there's more, but I can't remember it all...
Wow. I could eat this every day.