Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat; sear beef until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef and oil to a large pot.
Mix water, carrots, onion, celery, Worcestershire sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, garlic, bay leaves, and allspice with beef; cover pot and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Add potatoes to stew, cover pot, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes more.
If you simmer in a pot that has a cover with one of those little steam escape holes, you may need to add a little bit of water when you add the potatoes and may have no use for thickening the gravy.
You may also substitute the water for beef broth, but I never do.
Sirloin can be substituted for the bottom round roast.
Olive oil can be substituted for the vegetable oil.
Ground cloves can be substituted for the allspice.
To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.
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