by contributing writer Mary Beth Mosley
While I like to consider myself a semi-foodie (would-be gourmet?) and love recipe books and the process of creating a meal for my friends, the truth is, I eat my share of quick and dirty meals. Takeout, supermarket sushi, and that single-person’s savior, the Lean Cuisine–they all make regular appearances in my weekly menus.
Even on last minute, no-cook nights, I still like to have a glass of wine with my meal. But what does one pair with food that comes in a plastic tray?
My favorite Lean Cuisine is the Lemongrass Chicken. Why? All the pieces are recognizable and it is a dish I haven’t ever made myself (thus I can pretend this is how a chef would make it). Lean Cuisine describes it as “roasted chicken tenderloins in a lemongrass-ginger coconut sauce with baby corn, yellow carrots, red peppers, broccoli and brown rice.” The description isn’t too far from reality, which, when it comes to the world of frozen meals, is a definite win.
I decided to go with Pinot Grigio based on the theory that you drink white wine with Asian food (is that a thing or something I made up?). I randomly chose two wines: Entwine (2010) and Sterling Vintner’s Collection (2011). One I picked up from my neighborhood Kroger and one from Target, where I bought the Lean Cuisine on the way home from work. Both were priced under $10 (thanks to a sale and my Kroger card). I didn’t do any research on wines, didn’t even read the back of the bottles to see what winemaker suggested I eat with it.
The Lemongrass Chicken has just the tiniest amount of heat in it, just a trace of red pepper, but is fairly sweet due to the carrots and sauce. My first impression was that the Entwine wasn’t a good fit. It was like green apple, but a bit too sharp. I liked it better when I had the half glass that remained after dinner. Funny, since this wine has a Food Network label on it and I found out later that the wine is the product of a partnership between the network and Wente Vineyards.
The Sterling was a better fit. It was zippy with almost a little bit of sparkle, and the lemongrass chicken brought out a peachy flavor without being overly sweet. It was more peppery when I finished off the bit left after the meal.
The best part about the experience was that having a glass of wine made the food in my little plastic tray taste better. I took a little longer to eat, and really thought about the food. I’m not saying that a glass of wine transformed the dish into 5-star cuisine, but it was something to be savored. Plus, now I’ve got wine ready to enjoy with my next meal, whether made from scratch or defrosted.