Grill, and Marinate with Coke.


Coke as a marinade, really, why not Root beer, or 7 UP? Why not, soda’s make a great accompaniment to your marinate or even to a braise.  Coke has essences of vanilla, citrus, and cinnamon while Root beer combines  anise, wintergreen, licorice and other flavors such as sarsaparilla which has replaced sassafras (now considered a health risk), these flavors enhance savory cooking,  particularly barbecue.  It is all in the PH balance of the marinade, most common meat marinades have a pH from 2.1 to 4.5, with lemon coming in as the most acidic at 2.1 and vinegar at 3-4 pH. Coca-Cola had a pH of 2.53, so it is great as a marinade. It is this Phosphoric acid in the soda that will help to break down the tough tissue in meat, and, no, your meat will not dissolve away as the urban myth makes the claim. Forget the beer unless your wanting the flavor beer provides, it just doesn’t do the job of tenderizing as a bottle of soda will.

There are a few simple rules that every great grill master has mastered some basic unbreakable rules for grilling. They may seem simple, but forget them and you face a possible downfall, poor quality food presentation or even worse food that is not edible.

First be sure you have enough fuel, charcoal is best, so be sure to have good quality charcoal or briquettes on hand. Usually 6 quarts of charcoal will see you through, use 30 briquettes to cook 1 pound of meat. Be sure you select a high quality charcoal made from burning high quality woods in the absence of oxygen, so it will light quicker, burn hotter, gives a nice smoky flavor and leaves little ash. Briquettes on the other hand, are less expensive, easily found gives an even temperature. Made from wood by products they tend to need chemicals to burn and therefore need to be burned off to begin with otherwise the chemicals will enter your food and taste like fuel not the flavor you’ll desire. However, they tend to maintain temperature longer than lump charcoal. Time is also very important 30-40 minutes are required to create a proper ash layer which gives you the even temperature you require. Look for grey ash spread over the briquettes a good indication, it is time to get cooking.

Secondly, be sure your grill is clean. Pieces of black carbon burned onto the grill will cause your proteins to stick to the grill and give your products a bitter burnt taste. A clean grill is not only important for the presentation of your food, but more vitally for the final flavor of your meal.

Judging the temperature of your grill may be a little tricky if you do not have a grill thermometer (you really should have one) so to judge temperature without one use this method.

Hold the palm of your hand over the heated coals, the length of time will indicate the temperature of the grill:

5 Seconds = low heat, Ash coating thickens, red glow less visible

4 Seconds = medium heat, Coals covered with light gray ash

3 Seconds = medium high heat

2 Seconds = high heat, Red glow visible through the ash coating

Stay committed, once you begin pay close attention to your grill. This open flame should never be left unattended. Any one of many factors can cause flare up’s and ruin your food. Stay involved, it is your dinner on that grill.

Want the extra flavor of mesquite, hickory or maple soak the wood chips in water before placing them over the hot coals.

Flare ups will instantly burn your food so avoid using anything which would cause such flare ups. A common mistake which causes flare ups, are sugary sauces (most BBQ sauces) basting with such sauces should be done only during the last ten minutes of cooking. The sugars burn easily and that will ruin your meal as well.

Every good cook needs a good instant read thermometer.

Steaks are done on the thermometer as follows:

Rare: 120 to 125 degrees F (35C) center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion

Medium Rare: 130 to 135 degrees F (50C) center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior        portion

Medium: 140 to 145 degrees F (55C) center is light pink, outer portion is brown

Medium Well: 150 to 155 degrees F (60C) thin line of pink outer portion evenly browned

Well Done: 160 degrees F (70C) no pink and above steak is uniformly brown throughout

Okay so you don’t have an instant read thermometer how do you tell what the temperature of your steak is? An old restaurant trick is called the touch method. Use the index finger of your right hand, press down on the various areas of your left hand then press down on your grilling steak. The tenderness of that area (as in the illustration above) will give you a very close indication of the steak temperature.

Protein cooking temperatures

Ground Meat: 160 to 165 degrees F (70C) no longer pink but uniformly brown throughout

All pork should read 155°F – 160°F (68°C – 71°C)

Fish and Seafood Internal Temperature

Fish (steaks, filleted or whole) 140 degrees F (55C) flesh is opaque, flakes easily

Tuna, Swordfish, & Marlin 125 degrees F (47C) cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor

Shrimp Medium-size, boiling 3 to 4 minutes cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor

Large-size, boiling 5 to 7 minutes cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor

Jumbo-size, boiling 7 to 8 minutes cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor

Lobster Boiled, whole – 1 lb 12 to 15 minutes meat turns red and opaque in cente4 when cut

Broiled, whole – 1 ½ lbs 3 to 4 minutes meat turns red and opaque in center when cut

Steamed, whole – 1 ½ lbs 15 to 20 minutes meat turns red and opaque in center when cut

Baked, tails – each 15 minutes meat turns red and opaque in center when cut

Broiled, tails – each 9 to 10 minutes meat turns red and opaque in center when cut

Scallops Bake 12 to 15 minutes milky white or opaque, and firm Broil milky white or opaque, and firm

Clams, Mussels & Oysters cook to the point at which their shells open – throw away any that do not open.


1 tbsp                     15 ml                     olive oil

1 tbsp                     15 ml                     Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp                     15 ml                     garlic minced

1 tbsp                     15 ml                     paprika

2 tsp                       10 ml                    dried thyme

2 tsp                       10 ml                    dried oregano

1 ½ tsp                   8 ml                     black pepper

1 tsp                       5 ml                       salt

1 tsp                       5 ml                       lemon pepper

1 tbsp                     15 ml                     red pepper flakes

16 oz                       500 ml                 Cola, or Root Beer (use regular only Never Diet)

4-12 oz                     4-335 g               rib eye steaks (or, cut into cubes for kebobs)

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the steaks in a small mixing bowl. Place the steaks in a shallow baking dish, spoon the mixture over the steaks and press into the meat with the back of the spoon. The marinate will get very bubbly when poured over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Grill over medium heat to desired doneness.

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