Tuesday, June 19, 2012


New Bern is a Pepsi town, a fact I discovered in 1992 during our first visit.  We went for lunch at the Chelsea Restaurant downtown and I ordered a Coke.  "We only serve Pepsi here," was the waitress' reply.  Then I spied the huge Pepsi mural on the wall behind the bar, painted by the now-deceased and much-revered New Bern artist, WillieTaglieri.  A 1984 postcard immortalized this beautiful painting.

The reason we're a Pepsi town is simple:  it was invented here.  Created and developed in 1898 and introduced as "Brad's Drink", it was later renamed as Pepsi-Cola on June 16, 1903, then to Pepsi in 1961. 

In honor of Caleb Bradham's creation, I've developed a recipe for barbecued chicken and ribs using Pepsi.

The BBQ sauce is sweet and spicy with mild vinegar undertones and a perfect balance of flavors.  It pairs nicely with my rub to make a succulent BBQ dinner.  There's a bit of work involved here, but the good news is you can start ahead of time by making the BBQ sauce and rub a week or more ahead of time.  You can also rub the chicken and ribs two nights ahead, and roast them both the next day and refrigerate overnight.  Then, the day of your BBQ feast, all you have to do is put the pieces on the grill with the BBQ sauce for the final cooking.  Why not give this a try for the upcoming 4th of July?

Pepsi-Cola BBQ-Sauced Chicken and Ribs
Rating:  9 out of 10

Pepsi BBQ Sauce:
1-1/2 tsp. garlic, grated
1/8 tsp. Diamond kosher salt, or table salt
1-1/2 cups Pepsi
1/4 tsp. dry powdered mustard
1/4 tsp. Grey Poupon
3/4 cups ketchup
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
1-1/2 tsp. McCormick's hot New Mexico chili powder (or 1-3/4 tsp. chili powder)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
2-1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

In small saucepan, combine all ingredients except lime juice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Stir in lime juice.  Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper and/or hot sauce, as desired.  (Can be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated.)

Chicken and Ribs:
2 tsp. Diamond kosher salt, or table salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. Mexican oregano, crushed
2 tsp. chipotle chile powder

1 rack of Baby Back Ribs
1 whole chicken cut up, or 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. of chicken pieces 
(If chicken is no-water-added, it should be brined for one hour first in a solution of  1/4 cup salt and 2 Tbsp. honey or sugar to 1 quart of water plus garlic and any herbs of choice.)

In small bowl, combine salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano and chile powder.  Blot chicken and ribs well with paper towels to remove all excess moisture.  Lay chicken pieces on large baking sheet.  Lay whole slab of ribs on another baking sheet.  Sprinkle each with rub; turn over and sprinkle underside with rub.  Use up all the rub.  Cover each baking sheet with plastic wrap well and refrigerate at least 5 hours, or, preferably, overnight.

Remove plastic wrap from ribs.  Pour 1/2 cup water or chicken broth into pan; cover with tinfoil.  Place in 325F oven for about 2 hours, or till tender.  

Remove plastic wrap from chicken.  Pour 1/2 cup water or chicken broth in pan; cover with tinfoil.  Place pan in 325F oven and bake 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake additional 20 to 30 minutes, or till tender.  

Meats can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated a day ahead, if desired.

In the meantime, heat a gas grill to 400-425F.  Cut ribs into pieces.  Pour some sauce into a small bowl, reserving some for serving.  Oil the grates well and place ribs and chicken on hot grill.  Cover grill lid and cook about 5 minutes.  Baste with sauce.  Cook another 5 minutes.  Turn pieces over.  Baste with sauce.  Cook 5 minutes.  Repeat so that both sides are basted twice.  Transfer to serving platter and serve with extra sauce.  Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen.


  1. I like the layers of flavors you have in this sauce, very fresh, I bet it really pops!

  2. I am going to have to try this. Sounds good.

    1. Hi Sandra, thanks so much for visiting. I hope you do try this recipe because it's really good and I'm a picky eater.


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