WINE WITH…Egg, Cheese and Green Chile Bake with Mascarpone
Eggy, cheesy and brightly flavored with green chilies--it’s easy to see why the American love affair with this sort of casserole has scarcely wavered since at least the 1950s. Most people probably think of it more as a brunch dish, served with mimosas or Bloody Marys, but we love it as a meatless main course for dinner too. It tastes delicious, is
simple to prepare, and somewhat to our surprise, we’ve discovered that it is wonderfully wine-friendly. Adding mascarpone to the traditional mix of cheeses adds even more richness of flavor and texture, which helps to make this dish well-suited to a wide variety of wines.
Traditionally a product of Italy’s Lombardy region, mascarpone is a cow’s milk cheese, although it differs from traditional cheese in that the cream is curdled via citric or tartaric acid rather than rennet. It has a texture resembling thick sour cream, but is less acidic, somewhat mellower in flavor, and ivory rather than white in color. Despite its remarkably rich flavor and sumptuous texture mascarpone has about half the calories of butter (which is some people use it as a butter substitute).
Egg, Cheese and Green Chile Bake
Almost soufflé-like, but richer and denser, this dish needs only a salad or green vegetable to accompany it.
4 tablespoons butter
8 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 4-ounce cans diced green chilies
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°
Place the butter in a 9x3 or 10x10 inch baking dish. Put the dish in the oven until the butter is melted, then spoon about half the butter into a small bowl and reserve.
Place the eggs and egg whites in a food processor and whiz them for about 30 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder and mascarpone, and process until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add the cheddar, chilies and salt and pepper and pulse the mixture 3 or 4 times, or until just blended (but do not pulverize the chilies or cheese).
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and drizzle the remaining butter over the top. Place it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the mixture is just firm or still slightly jiggly in the middle (it will continue to firm up once it is out of the oven).
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We thought that white wines would show best with this egg and cheese bake, but reds turned out to work equally well. Be sure, however, that the red wine in question is soft and supple, without assertive tannins. As for whites, look for something with some richness as well as a medium or full body. Delicate, subtle whites will be overwhelmed by the dish.
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