Serves - 4 people
There aren't many times you hear of a food recipe being inspired by a drink, especially one of this nature. What is this drink I speak of? The Southern classic combination of Coca-Cola and peanuts.
According to The National Peanut Board the drink was created sometime around the 1920's when packaged shelled peanuts began showing up at filling stations where Coca-Cola was already being sold.
So how did I come up with the idea to put all of this together? Again in the South we are known for loving pork and we are also known to braise pork in cola or glaze or hams with it. So this was a no-brainer for me. The peanuts came into play from the Southern cocktail mentioned above and from my love of Thai cuisine which often combine pork and peanuts.
And I know some of you are thinking, "why in the heck would you serve that with potatoes"? Well in Peru and Ecuador the combination of pork, peanuts and potatoes has been a long time classic as well.
For the Cola Braised Wild Pork
4 - 2 inch thick pork shoulder steaks (this can also be make with 1 larger piece of pork if desired)
A mixture of 2 parts Coca-Cola and 1 part water (example, 2 cups cola for every 1 cup of water).
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons peanut oil (another high smoke point oil will work)
For the Toasted Peanut Gremolata
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup high quality peanut oil (if you can't find, use olive oil)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup toasted peanuts
salt and black pepper to taste
For the Blooming Potatoes
12 yukon gold potatoes
salt and pepper to your liking
STEP ONE: Start the pork
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degree F. In a deep sided skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Sear the pork on each side until nice and brown. Add enough of the 2 to 1 ratio cola/water mixture to cover the pork 3/4 of the way. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours or until for tender. Meanwhile start on the potatoes.
STEP TWO: Start on the Potatoes
Start by cutting the potatoes like you would for hasselback potatoes which is making a cut around 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the potatoes, spacing the cuts around 1/4 inch apart. Then do the exact same thing in the opposite direction. You are basically trying to achieve a checkerboard or grid pattern on the potatoes.
Brush or drizzle enough olive oil over the potatoes to coat and season with salt and pepper. When you are half way finished cooking your pork, place the potatoes in the oven and bake until tender, about 1 hour.
STEP THREE: Make the Toasted Peanut Gremolata
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse around 10 times. You don't want a puree, you're looking for a chunky mixture. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and mix to combine. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop all of the ingredients with a knife and mix together in a bowl.
STEP FOUR: Remove pork and potatoes. Make a glaze
After your pork and potatoes are tender remove them from the oven and turn your oven to the warm setting. Remove the pork from the pan and strain 2 cups of braising liquid into a pot.
Place the pork and potatoes in the warm oven so that they don't become cold.
Bring the strained liquid to a slow simmer and reduce by half. You're looking for the consistency of maple syrup here. This should take around 20-30 minutes.
TIME TO PLATE UP AND EAT!:
Glaze the pork with your braising liquid reduction. Top the pork and potatoes with the peanut gremolata.
** Optional Step: Before plating, place your oven to the broil setting. Brush the pork with your glaze. Broil the pork until is becomes a little brown, shiny and sticky. Adding more glaze if desired.
*** If you're not up for making the blooming potatoes, simply make your favorite oven roasted potatoes.
*** Also if you're not up for making the glaze, simply spoon a tablespoon of the braising liquid over the pork after you plate it up.