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Holy Smoke, They're Cookin' With Coke!

Among my favorite cooking sites is Diana Kuan's "Appetite for China." It was there that I discovered that Coca-Cola chicken wings is an actual Chinese dish. 

Kuan says she's never seen it in an English language Chinese cookbook or menu, but that it does appear from time to time in Chinese cookbooks and TV cooking shows.

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Nancy's 1895 soda fountain Coke dispenser.

Even though I'm not much of a Coke drinker, I just had to try her  recipe. It came out great and didn't taste at all like Coke. Here's the recipe.

When I told Nancy Leson how much I liked those Coke wings, she told me about husband Mac's Coca-Cola Carnitas, a recipe he'd adapted from Roberto Santibanez' "Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales."

Carnitas (slow-cooked pork) Makes enough to stuff 24 tacos 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled 1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 4 teaspoons kosher salt 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks 3 dried bay leaves 1 cup Coca-Cola 1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 2. Blend the garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a blender until fairly smooth. 3. Combine the pork and bay leaves in a 6-quart Dutch oven or deep baking dish that can hold the pork in no more than 2 layers. Pour the blended mixture and the Coca-Cola over the pork and stir and toss well. 4. Cover the pot and bake in the oven until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours. The sides of the pot might look dark. That’s just fine. 5. Uncover the pot and return it to the oven. Continue cooking, tossing well and scraping the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes, until the pork is slightly crispy on the outside and deep golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Coarsely shred the pork (or do as Nancy does and serve it in chunks). Make Ahead Notes: You can prepare the carnitas up to three days before you plan to serve them. Serving suggestions: Serve alongside warm corn tortillas and lime wedges and top with chopped white onion, chopped cilantro and fresh salsa or pico de gallo. Diced fresh pineapple makes a nice addition, too.

Got any favorite dishes made with soft drinks? Let's hear about 'em.

"Sailin' round the world in a dirty gondola

Oh to be back in the Land of Coca Cola!"

– Bob Dylan, "When I Paint My Masterpiece"

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.