Feeling inventive last night and looking for something I could create out of ingredients on hand that would go well with a slightly sweet Alsatian Auxerrois, I came up with what I think was a brilliant concept, and my wife and the cats seemed to agree.

I took the basic concept of the French Cotes de Porc Bonne Maman (pork chops braised with potatoes and onions in a small amount of acidulated liquid) and turned it into a cross-cultural dinner by splicing French country fare with American soul food! Diced sweet taters in place of the traditional potato; lime juice in place of the usual vinegar; a shot of Inner Beauty hot sauce from Costa Rica to make it sing, and had a great, wine-friendly treat on the table in about 45 minutes.

It's as simple as this: Sprinkle salt and pepper on a pair of pork chops (I used boneless butterflied chops, but bone in would be fine) and brown them on both sides for about five minutes in a little olive oil with a smashed garlic clove. Stir in one large onion, cut into thin slices, and continue sauteeing (adding a tablespoon or two of water if necessary to keep things from sticking) until the onions are limp and brown, another five minutes or so. Meanwhile, take one large uncooked yam or sweet potato, peel and cut it into smallish (1/4-inch) dice. Cook them in boiling salted water until they're about half done, five minutes or so, then drain and add them to the pork chops and onions. Add the juice of one-half lime and a very small shot of hot sauce (just enough for piquancy, you don't want fire); stir, cover, and simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes more, a total of 30 minutes for the pork. Remove cover, boil off excess liquid if any, and serve with French bread and a salad.

The sweet potatoes, lime and very subtle chile-pepper heat transform this dish! I like it the traditional French way and make it often, although usually in cooler weather. This variation is even better, and it definitely goes into the family rotation. Strongly recommended, even if you think you don't like sweet taters.

As I mentioned, it went very nicely with the Alsace Auxerroise, a rather rare off-dry white table wine; but it would have done just as well with almost any not-quite-dry white, a Riesling or Gewurztraminer for instance. Or for the fine-beer fanciers, it would be GREAT with a Belgian Abbey Ale or French Farmhouse Ale. Yum!