Like a lot of cooks, I am generally pretty suspicious of the sort of recipe that involves using branded prepared products- cakes with instant pudding dumped in, or sauces made with dried soup mix- that sort of thing. Until today, there was really only one of these I've made and repeated. That is the ultra simple combination of a large block of cream cheese with a bottle of Pickapeppa Sauce poured over it. This is a ridiculously good spread on crackers or sticks of raw veg, and I don't hesitate to serve it with drinks,anytime.
I've looked at some recipes for baked hams involving coca cola, with curiosity, wondering if they'd be caramel-y tasting, or what. I've never tried one, though- I don't really bake a ham often- maybe once a year at most. But I couldn't resist this coke chicken thing. It appeared in the NYTimes Magazine Food Section, and is apparently the creation of Frederick Grasser-Herme, the wife of Pierre Herme of pastry fame, herself a food writer. As Amanda Hesser said in her article, it's pretty amusing to think of a classy French food figure condescending to cook with coke. And then, the recipe, like everything else in the article, was mostly about lemons. I have a serious weakness for the chicken-lemon combo. Anyhow, I tried it, and it's kind of sticky and tangy and really delicious!
I'd love to be able to link to the recipe, but the Times has already sent it to inaccessable archiveland, so I will paraphrase it. Thus, you also get my slight adaptations- not much change at all though. I would note that the times (small t "times" as opposed to the NYTimes) seemed to be off. I wound up cooking this nearly an hour longer than the recipe specified, even though I upped the temp to offset the slowness of my oven. The ginger in the cooked onions is a particularly delicious idea. Anyway , this is very tasty, unusual, and not weird. It is a good recipe to boost the flavor of an undistinguished supermarket bird.
This is what you need:
A whole chicken, about four pounds, butterflied open and laid out flat on something with a rim to catch juices
juice of 3 lemons
zest of two lemons, yellow only
onion sliced in 1/2 moons
1/4 cup minced ginger
3 cloves garlic. chopped
cup of coke (not diet!)
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp balasmic
Rub the chicken on all sides with the lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and rub in the lemon peel as well. Cover and refrigerate. The Times recipe says to do this for four hours. I refrigerated it this way for 24 hours. It was nice.
Drain chicken, reserving lemon juice, and place it, skin up, in a roasting pan, in a preheated 350F oven, covered loosely with foil. Cook for 30 minutes, basting with the lemon juice.
Meanwhile, cook the onions and ginger slowly in some olive oil for about 10 minutes on a medium low heat, or unril golden. Turn off heat, and stir in the garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove foil. The original recipe has you lower the heat here. I think this is a bad idea, and did not. Everything still took longer than expected. Begin basting every 10 minutes with coke, and continue cooking uncovered, until the chicken is done, testing doneness by your favorite method. Reheat onions, and add vinegars and some pan drippings. Move chicken to a large platter, and pour hot onions and drippings over all, just before serving.
I'll be making this again, folks. But what to drink? A 1990's Classic Coke? Or go crazy and pair it with Ginger Ale, to pick up the ginger in the onions? Nah, lemonade all the way.