Revisiting Old-Fashioned Veal Stew with Rice Pilaf

I had grand plans of making a luscious, tasty ham in the slow-cooker for Easter Sunday.

Until I realized I had waited too long to pick one up and the only boneless hams left were the pre-packaged spiral sliced kind, which I didn't want. So, I opted for plan B, thanks to Chris and his eagle eyes -- waiting patiently on the shelf was a 1.5 lb package of lovely veal shoulder diced and ready for a stew.

When we got home, I brought out the holiest of holy books from my cookbook shelf:
After a moment of respectful silence, I turned the stained, weathered pages to Blanquette de Veau à l'Ancienne avec Riz Pilaf (Old-Fashioned Veal Stew with Rice Pilaf). The last time I  made this dish was in April 2010!

It took a little less than 2 hours to prepare the veal, the sauce,  the garnish (mushrooms/pearl onions), and the rice.  I saved some time along the way by having my celery, carrots and leek bundles already prepped. (When I get one of my organic boxes filled with leeks, celery and carrots, I slice them up, blanch lightly and store in the freezer. When I'm ready to use, I thaw and dry on paper towels.) The house was soon filled with the sounds and smells of a busy kitchen. It definitely brought back some great memories of my FCI course and I was proud to see how much easier it was to make the second time around.

 I had a lot of fun cooking this, and we really enjoyed eating it too -- it's one of those elegant, yet comforting dishes that makes you smile from inside out.  So delish!

I roasted some Brussels sprouts tossed with walnut oil and bacon to add a bit of color and some veggies to our meal. (I desperately wanted to toss a handful of peas into the stew, but resisted.)  Chris opened a lovely bottle of Vin Gris -- our first of the season.

As we finished the bottle out on the patio in the sunshine, I noticed that the buds on the tree out front have started to open. Gorgeous!

Amazing food, great wine, sunny skies and the company of the one you love--could there be a lovelier way to spend the day?

Hope yours was special, too.