The first time I heard about folks pouring a tiny bag of peanuts into their icy cold 6-ounce Coca-Cola was in my daddy’s barbershop. Our Coke machine was kind of a big deal. The regulars would gather after lunch and pull straws from a small whisk broom, and the gentleman with the short straw had to buy a round of Cokes for the room. At 25 cents a pop, it was rarely a cause for a rumble. They had lots of other important man things to argue about. Bless ’em.
The origins of combining the peanuts into the cola seems to have originated in country stores. These community gathering spots lent themselves well to conversations about local happenings and provided a short break from the extremely hard work and long hours between breakfast and supper. The ease of a quick midday snack also worked out well for farmers who were reluctant to stop working until they heard the dinner bell ring. That dinner bell could get you on momma’s bad side real quick. This is a fact.
Today I’m going to share a recipe that includes some wonderful elements of cola and peanuts. I made this with unsliced slab bacon. You can use pork belly or thick-sliced bacon tied to keep it in larger pieces. I also used Cheerwine because I couldn’t find Coke with real sugar. I actually liked the cherry-ish flavor with the smoky bacon. This recipe is perfect for a summer gathering because it provides the perfect balance of salty and sweet, and the lettuce wrap makes you feel healthy and forget all about that bacon. Don’t miss the dinner bell.
PEANUTTY BACON WRAPS
For the glaze:
2 12-ounce bottles Cheerwine or Coca-Cola with real sugar. Open and let it go a bit flat. Pour into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Reduce to low, stirring occasionally until it is reduced by half (about 30 minutes) remove from heat and cool to room temperature and chill.
2 pounds slab bacon or pork belly sliced into 2-inch squares
1 small sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 bunches romaine lettuce washed, separated and dried
One-half cup crushed salted peanuts
Brown bacon or pork belly in peanut oil in a medium dutch oven for about two to three minutes per side. Add remaining ingredients, barely cover with water and cook at 275 degrees in oven for two hours. Remove bacon from braising liquid and let rest for 10 minutes. Brush glaze over pork and bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly and serve immediately wrapped in romaine leaves sprinkled with crushed peanuts. Cheers!
Sharon Little is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times-News.