I find it fascinating to learn about a person’s go-to recipe. Their secret weapon. A tried-and-true recipe that they’ve kept close to their heart not only for its versatility, but also for its crowd-pleasing ability. These are the recipes that define a person. Astrological signs? Pfft. Ask them what they cook for the people they love.
I have an uncle who brings out the big guns every Christmas Eve – a huge, creamy caramel flan. Every year we experience the same routine – crowd around him in the kitchen for an unsatisfyingly small piece so you can come back for more and extend your gratification for as long as possible. It often becomes very difficult to see beyond his flan-making talents.
When Juan told me about his famous Coca Cola ribs recipe by the water cooler at work the other day, my eyes widened at the unexpected combination of words. Coke? In my food? You mean, the stuff that cleans pennies?
He talks about it excitedly; recounting the great breakthroughs he’s had making it for the pickiest of eaters and vividly describing how delicately the meat falls off the bone. Towards the end of the explanation, he whispers the secret ingredient: cinnamon. Pennies be damned, I was going to make this thing.
After some recent misadventures with my slow-cooker, it was time to bring back its honor with Juan’s vetted recipe. One morning before heading to work, I unwrapped two pounds of baby back ribs and massaged some pork rub until they turned deep brown.
I added a generous (and I mean generous) amount of cinnamon to both sides afterward.
I sliced up the ribs to make them fit into my slow-cooker and poured some regular Coca Cola until it filled the ceramic insert halfway through.
By the time I got home, the meat was barely hanging onto the precipice of bones above a sea of gooey cinnamon soda sauce.
As a side, I made a cauliflower cheese bake (another Juan-recommended pairing) which was a pleasantly cheesy complement to the ribs. In fact, after coming across some of the health benefits of cauliflower, it made me feel a little less guilty about drenching it in cheese.
Any apprehension I had about cooking with soda had gone out the window after this dish. Slow cooking Coke into these sweet, sweet ribs ultimately defeated the evils of soda but melted its power into delicious sauce.
If you’ve got a recipe near and dear to your heart and want to share it with the world – leave it in the comments!
Recipe: Coca Cola Ribs
- 1 rack of baby back ribs
- A generous amount of pork rub (try Grill Mates)
- A really generous amount of cinnamon
- A bottle of Coca Cola (regular)
- Salt to taste
- Give the baby back ribs a nice rub down with the pork rub until nicely browned.
- Give them another sexy rub down with cinnamon. Lots of it. And just when you think you’ve put enough – put some more.
- Don’t forget to salt your meat!
- Place the ribs in your slow cooker, cutting them as needed to fit inside, as close to the bottom as possible.
- Pour Coca Cola inside your slow cooker, covering the meat and stopping halfway up the slowcooker.
- Place on low for 6-8 hours (or on medium for 4-6 hours, but on low will give you the best results)
- Serve and enjoy. Sip a spoonful of that Coca Cola cinnamon sauce – I won’t tell.
Recipe: Cauliflower and Cheese Bake
Adapted from SouthernFood @ About.com
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into flowerets
- 2 oz (4 tablespoons) butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) of cheddar cheese
- For the topping, get 1 cup of soft breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika and screw it, another spoonful of melted butter
- Boil the head of cauliflower in water until just tender (6-8 min), drain and set aside.
- Grease a baking dish and heat the oven to 350°
- Melt butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Add flour and stir until smooth.
- Add salt, pepper, and milk and cook the sauce until it’s thick and bubbly. Add mustard and cheese until it melts.
- Combine the cauliflower flowerets with sauce and spoon into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, parsley, and paprika over the mixture. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the cauliflower mixture.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until you get some nice browning on top.