Mellow and the Challenge

Fall is full of challenges. The challenge to wake up without an alarm when the sun isn't beaming in at 5 am. The challenge to explain to a first time student why you need to keep your hands to yourself. The challenge to know whether to risk wearing shorts or be safe with a rain jacket. About a month ago a customer gave me an unintentional challenge that I've taken to heart. We were discussing wine pairings as he proclaimed, "What I really want is a wine that goes with eggs." This man was a die-hard red-wine-only enthusiast, so there was no convincing him that plenty of whites would pair nicely with a quiche or frittata.

The main problem with eggs is how delicate their flavor is. All of Beresan's reds will overpower eggs made in the common ways and on the flip-side eggs will make most red wines taste odd and sharp. My mind kept going back to "eggs pair with white wines and champagnes only" so I had to think outside of the box and put the egg element on the back burner. I wanted a dish that could be eaten for any meal, have enough body to stand up to a red wine, and could have eggs added in some form.

Over the course of a week I formulated a plan, although I do admit to having help. I asked my son, Aiden, "What's something you would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?" He answered with, "Pancakes." Pairing wine with eggs AND pancakes would just open a whole new can of worms, but what if we didn't make a traditional sweet pancake. What if instead we made a savory one? I decided on a shredded sweet potato "pancake" as a median between the two extremes. Instead of the classic maple syrup, I wanted something wine-friendly and decided on tomato sauce (think hashbrowns with ketchup). I always incorporate something green into my meals when it's feasible, so I went with arugula which has a wonderful peppery zest to it that pairs amazingly with all red wines. Now to decide on the egg: scrambled, poached, fried, boiled, omelet, fritatta, or a quiche. I again went to my resident 5 year old for help and after much thought he decided he liked fried eggs best.

With the help of a food processor, we quickly shredded the sweet potatoes and within no time had our "pancakes" frying. We then made a quick tomato sauce and fried the eggs in the same pan. Assembling the meal was just as easy: a sweet potato "pancake," a healthy handful of arugula, a ladle of tomato sauce, followed by two fried eggs. Voila! A wine-friendly egg dish!

At this point I realized I'd put so much thought into the dish itself, I'd completely ignored the wine. I opened my wine cooler and pulled out each one. Cab Sauv? No, too bright. Malbec? No, too bold. Ten wines later, I finally found the one: Beresan's 2007 Merlot. Dinner's getting cold, so I don't have time to deliberate. I open, decant, pour, and sit down with a sigh. My first tentative sip of wine with dinner is rewarding. The Merlot is full of stewed dark fruits with hints of a mineral earthiness and a nice mellow finish. The meal is hearty and zesty enough to compliment the Merlot beautifully and the eggs aren't overpowered. Mission accomplished.

Yes, fall is full of challenges, but it's nothing that eggs, pancakes, and glass of Merlot can't solve.

Sweet Potato & Egg Mile-Highs
(very loosely based on a picture I saw in Vegetarian Times)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & shredded
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes with onion and garlic**
  • 1 lime
  • baby arugula

1) Combine sweet potato, 2 eggs, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon coriander, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

2) Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Divide the sweet potato mixture into quarters and scoop into the skillet, using a spatula to gently flatten into 4 patties. Cook 5 minutes per side. Set aside; keep warm.

3) Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and remaining cumin and coriander. Stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds, add crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lime juice.*

4) Wipe out pan, add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and fry the eggs over-easy.* Season with salt and pepper.

5) To serve, place one sweet potato pancake on each plate, top with a large handful of arugula, enough sauce to wilt the greens, and 2 eggs. Don't forget a glass of Beresan's '07 Merlot!

*You could also leave the sauce in the pan, stir in the lime juice, make 8 little wells in the sauce, break the eggs into the wells, and poach them with the lid on for about 5 minutes. This will save you from cleaning a bowl and I'm sure it's a bit healthier.

**If you can't find crushed tomatoes with onion and garlic, you can always just buy the normal kind and fry up 1/2 an onion and 1 clove of garlic in the pan before you add the tomatoes.