My husband and I recently purchased a new grill/smoker. We’ve been pretty excited about the purchase
and so experimenting with grilling and smoking meat has emerged as a new hobby
of ours. With that in mind, when I saw
the opportunity to test out a new Coke-braised pork recipe we were about to
Cook in Training
To preface this blog, I’m not a great chef by any means. I don’t have any formal training or experience other than working as a server at various restaurants throughout high school and college. For the most part I can follow a recipe and even sometimes that goes awry. But I’m becoming more adventurous and working at experimenting more. Unintentionally this exercise in cooking-what-we-publish became somewhat experimental in nature as I did make substitutions for items I couldn’t find locally.
Pork Cheeks of a Different Variety
My first hesitation in making this recipe came when I could not locate pork cheeks at my neighborhood Ingles. The butcher told me he thought that I was searching for pig jowls, which they only carry around New Year’s Day (as that’s apparently when it is most popular in my area). Undeterred, I asked him what he thought I should use in its place. He recommended a small 2.5 pound Boston Butt. So I added it to my cart and headed down the grocery isles in search of another ingredient—sorghum syrup.
The Syrup Dilemma
Let me pause here to say that I am a “first-generation
Southerner.” I say this because I never
grew up with sorghum syrup. My parents
are Pennsylvania natives and therefore it was never an item that showed up in
our pantry. Sorghum syrup is a southern
ingredient and one I fully and naively expected to be able to find among the
molasses and maple syrups that lined the shelves. I was wrong. The store manager helped me in my search and said his wife uses it from
time to time in her cooking. So he was
kind enough to call his wife and ask her where she purchases her
syrup—apparently from a small vendor who attends local farmers’ markets. Otherwise, she stocks up on trips to the mountains
of North Georgia. The day before Easter,
neither were options for me. Enter my
Fortunately from there I was able to locate the remaining ingredients. I only made two more changes. The first was to select a Mexican Coke. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I liked the differently shaped bottle and the fact that as of late, it seems to be a bit of a novelty item/trend in the States. What I also found out was that the 500ml comes out to a nearly perfect 2-cup pour with just a swallow left in the bottle for a thirsty chef.
A Few More Confessions
Instead of leaks I made my Coke-braised pork with green
onions. This wasn’t a voluntary
decision. I forgot to get leaks. When
I made it home I decided I was not going back to the store and that the green
onions in my fridge would have to do. So
with my hodgepodge of ingredients, I got started.
Oh and for the record I used grape seed oil instead of olive
oil—because it’s what I had in my pantry.
I braised my Boston butt in a Lodge cast iron skillet and instead of
transferring it to the oven I cooked it without the lid on my smoker. Additionally, I couldn’t fit all the broth (I
used beef broth) into my skillet so I ended up using 3.5 cups instead of the
In the end we had a delicious Boston butt. How did it taste? It was reminiscent of a pot roast in flavor. So as I near the end of this blog, I’m realizing this dish may be very different from the original recipe, but it was fun to make and my husband had no complaints.I would love to hear how your Coke-braised pork turns out—send your comments and cooking adventure tales my way in the comments section below. Bon Appetit!
Ashley Callahan is Digital Communications & Social Media Manager at The