Sometimes I hang out it my room and listen to songs from middle school, amazing myself with not only my ability to rock out so hard to synthetic pop beats from the 90s, but also with my knack for remembering all the lyrics to even the most complicated or seemingly random tunes. One such example? Savage Garden’s “I Want You.”*
*Others include Lauryn Hill’s “That Thing,” Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” and “Mo Money Mo Problems” featuring a number of hip hop artists, including Diddy, back when he was a Daddy of Puff.
Want to test yourself? Visit youtube for a little “remember when they actually played videos on MTV although this was probably more often played on VH1″ nostalgia.”
You might not remember much, but I’m willing to bet everyone will shout out “CHICK-A CHERRY COLA!” in unison as the one phrase that we can all agree on.
But maybe, just maybe, during this telepathic sing-a-long, someone gets confused, and awkwardly screams out the wrong words. [You know there’s ALWAYS someone.] And instead of “Chick-a Cherry Cola” [which doesn’t make sense anyway] he [because it’s always a he, isn’t it?] screams, “CHICKEN Cherry Cola!”Well, perhaps you, as I would do, will get inspired to take this idea of “chicken cherry cola” and make…well….Cherry Cola Chicken.In the lore of my family’s food history, there is one dish that was always spoken of as being the best one to feed a crowd. And feed a crowd it did, on many occasions, especially the annual Easter Egg Hunt at MawMaw and PawPaw’s house in Georgia. This dish was Coca-Cola Chicken. [I’ve made it on the blog before…but I’m still not giving away the exact recipe!] So, well, with cherries being on sale so frequently right now…I got to thinking: what if I made CHERRY Cola Chicken?“What if” indeed. Turns out this was one of the best (and weirdest?) ideas I’ve had in a long time. It’s easy, really. For a half-pound of chicken, slice up half of an onion (about 1 cup). Salt, pepper, and chili powder the chicken–I used tenders, because they were cheap that week, but you can use sliced boneless breasts–and put into a pan with a lil’ olive oil or cooking spray.
Let the chicken start to brown and the onions to soften…about 4 minutes or less. Then pour in 12 oz. of Cherry Coke (or Coke Zero).What goes great with both cherries AND Coke? Well, limes of course!Squeeze the juice of a lime over the chicken, and pour in about 1/2 cup of chopped cherries.As our goal here—which I probably should have told you, just in case you couldn’t tell from the photo above—is to make a BBQ-style sauce based on a Cherry Coke reduction of sorts. To that end, you’ve got to give the whole mess a little ‘heft’ by adding a can of tomato sauce.
You will probably overflow the pan if you haven’t thought this through carefully. So think this through carefully.
Sprinkle on some salt, pepper, chili powder, and red pepper flakes (if you want them), and try not to worry about the massive amount of liquid in the pan.
Leave the whole thing uncovered and bring it up to a simmer…because through the magical powders of heat and evaporation…
…slowly but surely (over the course of about an hour or so), the liquid will reduce into a sauce.
A very yummy, sweet-and-spicy (if you used red pepper flakes) sauce.
A sauce so good you’ll pretty much want to ignore the chicken and just take spoonfuls of IT.
So good…that even the over-reduced, super-thick bits on the edge will need to be scraped up with some veggies after you’ve removed all the chicken from the pan.*
*Fine. This will probably only happen if you’re crazy like me.Make sure to serve it with something to sop up the sauce…might I suggest a delicious pairing of Sweet Potato Straw?Cherry Cola Chicken. Who knew? Well, I guess Savage Garden did. Kind of.
Cherry Cola Chicken
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, or breasts, sliced
1 cup sliced sweet onion
12 oz. Cherry Coke (or Cherry Coke Zero)
Juice of 1 lime (about 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup chopped, pitted cherries
1 15-oz. can of tomato sauce
red pepper flakes
1. In a large saucepan, cook garlic in a wee bit of olive oil over medium heat until fragrant.
2. Add sliced onions to pan, and arrange salt-and-peppered chicken over them.
3. Begin to brown chicken and soften onions. (Cook about 3-4 minutes.) Flip chicken over.
4. Pour in Cherry Coke to deglaze the pan.
5. Squeeze in lime juice and add cherries to the pan.
6. Pour in tomato sauce, and add–to taste–salt, pepper, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.
7. Bring to a simmer and cook for an hour or so, until liquid has reduced to a relatively thick sauce.