Sunday, January 23, 2011

Your Own "Food Network" Show - The Coca Cola Roast Blog

We don’t have Cable Television, i.e. we don’t have Food Network or Cooking Network.  So sad.  However, somehow I have managed to make it until this point without those particular networks as part of my everyday life.  Now, when we are away and DO have Cable access you know that it’s all Food Network all the time!  (Mom! Can we please watch something else?!) Now recently when we were away we spent a lot of time watching all our favorites. “Chopped” – where the contestants get a secret basket filled with weird combinations of ingredients and have to make a magical meal in only a few minutes.  “Cupcake Wars” – where the participants have to make all different types of exotic cupcakes with normal and unique ingredients…like fish eggs or beets (try putting those two together!).  We love watching the competition on “Iron Chef” (are they really making ice cream out of trout?), or placing bets on exactly how much butter Paula Deen will put in any given recipe.  I always manage to come away with new and fun ideas that I can apply to my own cooking and baking after a Food Network marathon.

My husband and I were having an interesting discussion this past Friday night.  We were talking about all the different cooking shows that we watched together (he humors me a lot).  He had made a fascinating observation: You never see kids on any of those cooking shows.  Ever.  Even the ones where you have husband and wife cooking teams you never see kids around.  He contrasted it to our lives.  We feel pretty blessed with our five kids (kenayna harah), but it’s always pretty crazy around here.  Our lives constantly feel like a network show - but with a few catches!  Thirty minutes before our kids come home from school we open up our “baskets” (i.e. the refrigerator and pantry) filled with weird combinations of ingredients and have to come up with a healthy and enticing dinner for our family with only 30 minutes on the clock.  It’s our own version of “Chopped”, except that usually there are additional kids around wanting our attention, the phone is ringing, and a meshulach is ringing the doorbell!  Now that is a show I’d like to see! 

In real life we can’t get chopped from the show, and can’t get sent home – we already are home and no matter what happens we are responsible for taking care of our families (regardless of whatever “creative” meals we serve them)!  And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

One of the advantages that we have is that, most of the time, we do have some ability to plan what we are going to make (the rest…Cheerios!).   When life is especially busy the key is to make things that don’t take a lot of time to make but look and taste like they do! 

When we are privileged to have a majority of our large boys home there are a few things that they all agree are a must have at the Shabbos table…one of them is beef.  When I asked one of my sons last week what I should blog about this week, I got a one word answer – beef!  Keeping with the fast to make but looks and tastes good theme, I’m making one of my all time favorite and interesting recipes – Coca Cola Roast.  Yes, it’s really make with Coke.  Truly.  What’s cool about the cola is that the carbonation actually tenderizes the meat while it’s cooking, and the sugar caramelizes which is particularly excellent.  It’s super fast to make with only a few ingredients that are easily accessible,  it’s made with vegetables (healthy!), and you can have a cold drink of cola while preparing this yummy roast!  You can even have one of your kids film you while you’re putting it together and pretend that you are on your own version of a Food Network hit show!  So fun!

4-4.5    lb.        beef roast1
3          cups     Coca Cola2
1          cup       orange juice3
1          pound   baby carrots
5          stalks    celery, sliced lengthwise and cut into 3” pieces (or more if you like)
1          cup       ketchup           
¼         cup       onion soup mix4
                        non-stick vegetable spray

1 roasting pan slightly larger and taller than the roast.
Measuring cups.

Preheat oven to 375° F (see ROASTING NOTES).  Spray the roasting pan with non-stick vegetable spray, then place roast in pan.  Pour cola over the roast.   It should reach about a third of the way up the roast.  Pour orange juice over the roast.  Arrange vegetables in the pan around the roast.  Spread ketchup evenly over the roast and then sprinkle the onion soup mix over the roast.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375° F.  Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 350° F and bake for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes longer until the internal temperature of the roast is 170° F (see NON CONVECTION OVEN ROASTING NOTES).   Remove from oven and cool for an hour.  Refrigerate roast for 3 hours or more.  Remove from refrigerator and slice into thin slices using a long, sharp knife.  Return sliced roast back to roasting pan.  Spoon pan gravy over the slices and cover tightly.  Warm in oven5.  Serve garnished with the roasted carrots and celery.  Enjoy!!

1.      You can use your favorite type of beef roast for this recipe.  I used a chuck roast in the photos, but I have also used a top rib roast, or a Scottish Tender (my mom calls it a Scotty) with good results.  If you get a roast that is tied up, leave it tied during the roasting process.  When you are about to slice the roast gently remove the coating and set it aside.  Once the string is removed, reapply the coating with a knife or spatula before slicing.  You can also use a larger or smaller roast.  The key is to have the cola reach around 1/3 of the way up the roast, with a proportional amount of orange juice.  You want to use enough ketchup and onion soup mix to coat the top of the roast however large it is.
2.      I use the actual Coca Cola brand for this recipe.  I like the flavor and it has always worked well…if it aint broke, don’t fix it!  I also use the full sugar, caffeine free version – we don’t want anyone not being able to sleep because they had our roast!
3.      I use the extra pulp style orange juice because it give it the full orange flavor with the pulp.
4.      Around Passover time you can get onion soup mix that has more large pieces of onion and different ingredients than the version that is made during the rest of the year.  I stock up at Passover.
5.      If there is two hours before the roast has to be served I like to re-heat it on a low temperature, 200° F.  It heats the roast through, but the keeps it tender without overcooking it.  If there isn’t a lot of time, then reheat at 350° F until heated through, approximately 30 minutes.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per pound. If you do have a meat thermometer, place it into the center of the roast to accurately determine the internal temperature.  A meat thermometer, digital or otherwise, is a good investment.  It will help you accurately determine the doneness of chicken, turkey and meat to avoid having it undercooked.  I have even seen cool laser thermometers (like in Star Wars) that you can actually point at the roast and “poof” you have the temperature in a nanosecond.  I love technology!

A few years ago I got a new oven.   We used to have an old GE double oven – it was probably purchased in the early 1960’s.  I’m not kidding.  I loved that oven and was really sad to see it go.  We replaced it with a higher end double wall oven that had a lot of different features.  I had no idea what to do with it.  Wanting to be able to use the oven to its full capacity, I actually took an excellent course at the manufacturer’s distributor.  It has really impacted my use of the oven.  So, if you have a conventional oven with only the bake setting use the roasting directions described above.  If you have a more advanced oven with more features here are the roasting instructions.

Set the oven to the “convection roast” setting.  Convection roast (for most ovens) will have 60% of the heat coming from the bottom of the oven and 40% of the heat coming from the top, with the convection feature circulating air throughout.  The air seals the outside of the roast early on in the roasting process, keeping moisture in the roast and helps to cook the roast evenly and keep it from shrinking.  The roast feature also helps to uniformly cook the roast because the heat is coming from the top and the bottom of the oven.  When using the “convection roast” setting reduce the oven temperature 25° F from the temperatures in the recipe above.

If your oven has a temperature probe, use it.  You stick the probe into the center of the roast with the probe going about half way into the inside of the roast.  This will allow you to have an accurate reading of the internal temperature of the roast.  This is important because temperature is what really determines whether the roast is done cooking.  When I use the probe, I generally don’t even set a timer because the time to cook will depend upon when it reaches the correct temperature rather than how long it roasts.  Set the temperature probe to 170° F.  You want to serve the roast when its internal temperature reaches 180° F.  The roast actually continues to cook once you take it out of the oven.  By taking it out at 170° F, it will reach 180° F shortly after removing it if left to sit at room temperature.  This will keep your roast from overcooking.


All the ingredients ready to go!

Roast in a slightly larger pan.

Pour over the cola.

All juiced up!








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