Cooking with Coke: Coca-Cola Beef Stew

After spending most of the last three weeks out of the kitchen, I’ve finally wandered back in to cook for my family and all of you again!  It felt good to be back in the kitchen, somewhere I’m back in control.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to check out the recipes on MyCokeRewards.com (they have recipes – who kmew?!) and see if anything caught my eye.  Now, as a kid, we used to eat country ham that had been fried and basically glazed with Coke.  It was SO yummy!  The sugars caramelized and you had the sweet and savory thing going on (and your mouth felt like the Sahara for a week, but that’s a story for another day).  So, having experienced cooking with soda before, I was interested to see what other ways the celebrity chefs involved with this project (Ingrid Hoffman and G Garvin) had done to incorporate Coca-Cola into their dishes.  I’m an avid Diet Coke drinker and always have some on hand.
Friday was busy, and hot.  I don’t know about you, but on hot and humid days, all I want to do is stay as far away from the stove as possible.  Some people my husband find it odd that I want to use the crock pot when it’s so hot outside, as it’s typically thought of as a ‘comfort food’ cooker, but I see it as an alternative to having the oven on or standing over the stove for an hour.  Plus, Fridays are crazy busy here and it is SO nice to get dinner going while the kids are still at school and not have to worry about it the rest of the day.
I’m a huge advocate of work with what you have, and while I didn’t have everything on the ingredient list for Ingrid’s Coca-Cola Beef Stew, I had most of it – and what I didn’t have, I had substitutes.  Besides, cooking should be interesting and creative – it’s always good to make changes to your own tastes and resources – except in baking… that can turn out poorly.  Trust me.

First things first, it would be hard to cook with Coke without actually having Coke.  I used Diet Coke because it’s what I have here all the time.  I also cracked a cold one open to enjoy while I was putting everything together.  The original recipe called for Yucca and Fennel, both of which I had a hard time finding, so I simply substituted potatoes and celery.

I took a 3 lb beef chuck roast and trimmed most of the fat off (not that there was much to begin with).  I always try to get as much bang for my buck with beef by looking for the leanest cuts possible.  Nothing is more frustrating that paying $15 for a roast and feeling like you throw away a quarter of it.

Rather than tossing the whole roast into the crock pot, I cut it into fairly big pieces (about 2 inches square), seasoned it with salt and pepper and browned it in a little olive oil, not enough to cook it through, just to give it some color on the outside.

While the beef was browning, I mixed the tomatoes, water, Diet Coke, paprika, Italian seasoning and garlic.

Mmmm… It was already looking yummy, though I don’t really do rare beef.  Raw fish = yes.  Rare beef = no.

I browned the beef in two batches.  I wanted it to brown and not be crowded in the pan.  As it browned up, I moved it to the crockpot – where I’d mixed up the tomatoes, etc.

It would be a shame to lose all the flavor from stuck to the bottom of the pan, so I grabbed an open bottle of white wine and deglazed.  Added bonus: It makes cleaning the pan so much easier!

After adding the deglazing liquid, I layered in the veggies – firmest closest to the bottom – and put a lid on it for about 6 hours, on low heat.
Six hours later…

Delish!  The veggies were just perfect – potatoes fork tender – and the beef was fall apart tender.  I served it over a bed of Jasmine Rice, though it could easily be eaten alone, without the extra work.

Coca-Cola Beef Stew (My Variation)

1 3lb. beef chuck roast, excess fat trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. small red potatoes
3 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 head celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 12 oz. can Coca-Cola or Diet Coke
1 1/2 cups water
  3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup white wine

PREPARATION

Sprinkle the beef with 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, in batches, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix the tomatoes, cola, water, garlic, paprika, oregano, and the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in your crockpot.

Transfer the browned beef to the crockpot.  Using white wine, deglaze the pan and add the renderings to the mixture in the crockpot.  Layer in the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery to the crockpot and cook over low heat for 6-8 hours.

Serve over rice or as a stand-alone dish.
Compensation was provided by Coca-Cola, but Coca-Cola is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this post. All opinions expressed are my own and not those of Coca-Cola.
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One Response to Cooking with Coke: Coca-Cola Beef Stew

  1. Crystal says:

    Wow! I have never heard of that. Maybe I will give it a try.

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