Sunday, April 10, 2011

Snacking State-by-State: Georgia III - The Many Uses of Coca-Cola

Peaches and peanuts aside, by far Georgia's biggest export is Coca-Cola. First made in Atlanta in 1886, Coke is now bottled all over the world. Is it really any surprise that the Coca-Cola corporation has not just a handful but an entire collection of recipes from enterprising Southern and other'n cooks (not to mention all those chefs in the Coca-Cola test kitchens) using Coke products as ingredients in cooking.

Official Name: State of Georgia
State Nicknames: The Peach State, Empire State of the South
Admission to the US: January 2, 1788 (#4)
Capital: Atlanta (largest city)
Other Important Cities: Augusta (2nd largest), Savannah (4th largest), Columbus (3rd largest)
Region: South, Deep South, Lowcountry (specifically along the coast); South Atlantic (US Census)
RAFT Nations: Cornbread & BBQ, Crabcake, Gumbo
Bordered by: Alabama (west), Tennessee & North Carolina (north), South Carolina (northeast), Atlantic Ocean (east), Florida (south)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: grits (official state prepared food), peach (fruit), Vidalia onion (vegetable)
Some Famous & Typical Foods: again, grits, peaches and Vidalia onions, among many other things, among them: Coca-Cola, boiled peanuts, pecans, pralines, okra, and other typical foods of the Deep South

Elizabeth Candler Graham, direct descendant of Coke founder Asa Candler co-authored the Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola cookbook with Ralph Roberts in a quest to find some recipes, hoping to find 20 or 30.

As the research progressed, we found to our pleasant surprise that in the over one hundred years of its existence, Coca-Cola has inspired a lot of recipes. So instead of just a few, we found literally hundreds of recipes using Coca-Cola or other products of The Coca-Cola Company. In fact, we found ourselves with too many recipes and were forced to leave out some of the lesser ones. [Candler Graham and Roberts 1998, p. 4]
I almost considered making an entire meal using Coke as an ingredient, but stuck with an entrée and a side instead. These may have been two of the rejects from the book, though I had great success with one of them.

The recipes: Fruited Coca-Cola Pork Chops with Caramelized Sweet Onions

To make both recipes, you need the following.

The entrée: Fruited Pork Chops

* shoulder or loin pork chops (4 about 1/2" thick - I got a package of 5 leaner, skinnier ones, which I now somewhat regret as I will explain below)
* salt, pepper and ground ginger (got them all)
* one apple and one lemon or orange (each less than a dollar - for the citrus I went ahead and used a tangelo instead, with little change)
* 1/2 cup Classic Coca-Cola (you can get the corn syrupy stuff, or splurge and get a bottle of the Mexican stuff with real sugar for about $1.50. Not too easy to find, but you can get it at Wegman's or Eddie's of Roland Park. Drink whatever you don't use)
* brown sugar and corn starch (got 'em)

Quickly brown the pork chops in a greaseless pan, then sprinkle them the salt, pepper and ginger, set them in your baking dish, and add the following: an apple slice on top of each pork chop, a citrus fruit slice on top of each apple slice, brown sugar over each pork chop, and Coca-Cola around the pork chops.

Like so.

Bake for about 45 minutes at 350° (the thinness of my pork chops probably necessitated a shorter baking time, which I did not consider at the time). Next stir in the corn starch and put in for about 15 minutes more.

The side dish: Southern Caramalized Vidalias, er, Mayans

For this recipe, you need a liter of Coke, a little A1 and two nice big sweet onions. The recipe, of course, calls for the very Georgian Vidalia onion. I could not find these anywhere at this time of year, so I begrudgingly settled for the not-as-special Sweet Mayan variety from Mexico. It wasn't the same, but it was doable.

Chop the onions into pieces, and pour in enough Coke to cover - the recipe says you will "float" the onion pieces in the Coke.
Next, add A1 Steak Sauce or a reasonable facsimile, cover and microwave on high for 20 minutes. When done you will have a mess of sweet, caramelized onions that you can serve on steak, mashed potatoes or anything else you like. I mixed some with some homemade tomato sauce and ate it on linguine. It wasn't as disturbing as it sounds.

I have to be frank: the onions clearly turned out better here. I could almost see myself just eating them straight out of the bowl. They certainly made the pork chops more interesting. I am largely to blame for how they turned out, since I did not adjust the time for the thinness of the chops, resulting in a drier, less juicy pork chop. Yes, even with all Coke and those fruit juices, the pork chops ended up pretty flat. Not so the onions, which I have eaten with potatoes, taro root and that linguine I mentioned above. I'll be making the onion dish again

Served with a Coca-Cola-free potato salad

Now heading out of Atlanta Hartsfield, the world's busiest airport, for the only state in the union that is not landlocked at all. In fact, it's our only Polynesian state, and the absolute southernmost state in the Union (sorry, Florida and Georgia). It's Hawai'i, the land of mahi mahi, poi and Spam.


Candler Graham, Elizabeth, and Ralph Roberts. Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola. Hambleton Hill Publishing: Nashville, 1998

Coca-Cola Company. "Recipe: Fruited Pork Chops". Copyright The Coca-Cola Company, 2006.

Coca-Cola Company. "Recipe: Southern Caramelized Vidalias". Copyright The Coca-Cola Company, 2006. Originally submitted by Rod Rives of Birmingham, AL.

Deen, Paula. "Boiled Peanuts". Featured on the Paula's Home Cooking episode "Boat Day". Copyright The Food Network, 2010

Fairweather, John. "How to Make Boiled Peanuts in a Slow Cooker". From eHow Food, date unknown.

Georgia Peach Council. "Rich History of GA Peach". Copyright Georgia Peach Council, date unknown.

Hanley, Lucy (editor), and Alice Moffatt (food editor). The Best Basic & Easy Recipes of Savannah. John Hinde Curteich: Savannah, 2000. Distributed by Dixie Postcards & Souvenir Sales.

Yearwood, Trisha, with Gwen Yearwood and Beth Yearwood Bernard. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen: Recipes from My Family to Yours. Clarkson Potter: New York, 2008.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Georgia" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Georgia".