Cocoa-crusted Pulled Pork

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Welcome back to Choctoberfest (don’t forget about the giveaway, the link is at the bottom of the post before the recipe)!  While I often think about all the delicious sweet ways chocolate can be used, I wanted to also share a savory recipe with you.  My husband and I have made pulled pork from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook several times and I just knew with a little modification it would be the perfect vehicle for cocoa!  I’ve used it in the rub on the pork and in the bbq sauce.  So tasty!

Ok, let’s get to it!

I will say this pulled pork is a time commitment.  I think it’s totally worth it, because you end up with quite a bit and it makes amazing leftovers.  We typically have ours on baked potatoes the day after we make it or bring it for lunches on sandwiches.

You’ll start with the brine.  Brining the pork ensures it’s flavorful inside and out. If you get one large pork shoulder, make sure you cut it into two pieces before brining it.  This will maximize the surface area for soaking up the flavors.

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In a large bowl (learn from me and use a larger bowl than you think you’ll need!) mix together the water, hot coffee, salt, sugar and liquid smoke.  It might seem strange to add coffee to a brine, but it adds a nice depth of flavor without leaving the pork with a coffee taste.  Using hot coffee helps dissolve the sugar and salt.  You can find the liquid smoke in the baking aisle with the spices, or in the condiments aisle of your local grocery store. This gives the pulled pork the flavor of being on the grill for hours without that being the case. Leave the brine out to cool to room temperature.  Once the brine is cool, put the pork pieces in and cover with plastic wrap.  Let that sit in the fridge for 2 hours.

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I loved the swirl made when I whisked the brine!

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Preheat the oven and cover a cookie sheet with foil.  Now put a wire rack on the cookie sheet.  The wire is going to help air circulate underneath the pork.

Take the pork out of the brine and dry it off with a paper towel.  Now you’ll add the rub.  Start by slathering the pork with yellow mustard on all sides.  This may be another ingredient that seems strange, but trust me.  I am not a mustard fan and don’t even notice the taste.  It’s just the glue for the rub. 🙂

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Mix together the chipotle, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl with a fork, making sure to remove the lumps.  As I think I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a big wimp when it comes to all things spicy.  If you want to amp up the heat, feel free to add more chipotle powder at this point.  Now add the spice mix on top of the mustard on all sides and rub it in.

Put the pork shoulders on the wire rack and cover lightly with parchment.  Then cover that with foil and seal around the edges.  The seal will help keep moisture in.  The reason we need the parchment between the pork and the foil is because the acid in the mustard could eat through the aluminum.

Put the whole thing in the oven and cook for 3 hours. Take it out of the oven and remove the parchment and foil covering and drain any liquid from the pan into a bowl or pitcher, you’ll be using it later.  Put that in the fridge, to help the fat separate. Return the pork to the oven.  This is where we’ll get some color and crusty bits on the pork.

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Cook it another hour and a half or until it reaches 200° in the center.  Then take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

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Look at that dark color!

In the meantime, you’ll make the sauce.  Take the pork drippings out of the fridge and skim off the fat.  We have one of those oil separator pitchers so I used that.  By no means do you need one for this though.

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Measure out 1/2 cup and whisk that with all of the other sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium until it’s heated through, about 10 minutes.  The cocoa adds a dark richness to the sauce that is quite tasty.

Now the final step- shred all of the pork with two forks, into bite-sized pieces and toss with about half of the BBQ sauce.  Serve with the additional sauce.

You can top it with some chopped onion or shredded cheese if you want…it is great on its own too!

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This pork is great as a baked potato topping!

For a drink pairing I recommend a bourbon-based cocktail, dark beer like a porter or something Mexican (Negra Modelo for example), or a bold red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Leftovers should last in the fridge up to 4 days.  Just heat them up with any remaining sauce and enjoy!

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Cocoa-crusted Pulled Pork
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Ingredients

    brine
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 5 lbs. pork shoulder cut into 2 pieces
  • rub
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl mix together the water, hot coffee, salt, sugar and liquid smoke. Cool to room temperature. Once the brine is cool, put the pork shoulder(s) in and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in the fridge for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325° and cover a cookie sheet with foil. Put a wire rack on the cookie sheet.
  3. Take the pork out of the brine and dry it off.
  4. Slather the pork with yellow mustard on all sides.
  5. Mix together the chipotle, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl with a fork, removing any lumps. Now add the spice mix on top of the mustard on all sides and rub it in.
  6. Put the pork shoulders on the wire rack and cover lightly with parchment. Cover that with foil and seal around the edges.
  7. Put the whole thing in the oven and cook for 3 hours.
  8. Take it out of the oven and remove the parchment and foil covering and drain any liquid from the pan into a bowl or pitcher. Put that in the fridge.
  9. Return the pork to the oven. Cook another hour and a half or until it reaches 200°. Then take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  10. Take the pork juice out of the fridge and skim off the fat. Measure out 1/2 cup and whisk that with all of the other sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until it's heated through.
  11. Shred all of the pork and toss with about half of the BBQ sauce.
  12. Serve with the additional sauce. You can top it with some chopped onion or shredded cheese if you want.
7.6.5
82
http://www.rachelpounds.com/2016/10/12/cocoa-crusted-pulled-pork/

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3 Comments

  1. This looks delish! This would be a great Fall recipe.
  2. Pingback: By the Pounds Don’t Judge Me Mondays: New Year’s Eve!

  3. Pingback: Choctoberfest: Cherry and Cocoa Pork Chops - By the Pounds

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