Mexican Mole Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches with oven braised fall apart shredded pork bathed in Mexican mole inspired chocolate chili barbecue sauce, creamy cilantro lime coleslaw, and pickled veggies on a toasted roll.
A perfect dinner idea for Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year!
Award – winning savory chocolate recipe
Based on the best ever method for oven pulled pork but updated with cocoa chili chub and homemade barbecue sauce with chocolate and chilies. This savory chocolate recipe was developed for an Iron Chef party with chocolate as the secret ingredient. It’s an inventive main dish that could feed a crowd, transport well, feature chocolate throughout and most importantly …. WOW the judges for the WIN!
Pulled pork should always be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a crowd pleasing knock out dish. It can be made ahead of time, is super affordable, reheats beautifully and is always a huge hit!
What is mole?
Mole, pronounced MOH-lay, simply means ‘sauce’ when loosely translated from the Aztec word ‘mulli’. Which explains why there are so many variations of mole. Often with different variations of upwards of 40+ sweet, spicy, sour and salty ingredients like plantains, chocolate, raisins, chilies, tomatillos, tomatoes, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. The flavor of mole is as wide ranging as the regions and families from which it originates.
Often though, when westerners think of mole it’s the thick, reddish-brown Mole Poblano made from a combination of chilies and dark chocolate. But REGARDLESS of the ingredients in mole one things for certain… it’s always delicious on grilled and slow cooked meat, in tacos and tamales, on enchiladas and even Mole Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Although the flavors are based on mole sauce this version is so much easier than the original! Simply roast all ingredients until the pork shreds easily and everything develops the deep color and rich flavor Mexican mole sauce is known for.
- Pork Shoulder Roast – 4-7 pound bone in pork shoulder or ‘butt roast’ – smaller if boneless, larger if bone-in. Do not substitute a leaner cut of meat here. The cheap and fatty pork shoulder requires a long cooking time to break down the cartilage but the results are extra juicy, tender flavorful pulled pork.
- Dark Chocolate – 60% + dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder deliver rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. Can’t find dark chocolate chunks or chips? Pick up a good quality chocolate bar from the sweets aisle instead.
- Fresh Peppers – jalapeno, poblano, bell peppers, tomatillo, anahem, etc, whatever mix you can find at the store. Use more spicy peppers like jalapeno and poblano if you like it hot, or more tomatillos and bell peppers if you like it mild. Trouble finding fresh peppers? Ancho chilies are simply dried poblanos and either dried ancho and pasilla or canned ancho chilies can be substituted.
- Cocoa Chili Dry Rub – based on my favorite all-purpose Homemade Pork Rub Seasoning Blend this version swaps ancho chili powder for dried mustard and adds unsweetened cocoa powder, finely ground coffee, a dash of cinnamon and smoky cumin.
- Cilantro Lime Coleslaw – crispy shredded cabbage, scallions and carrots covered with creamy cilantro lime dressing.
- Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes – a version of Quick Pickled Red Onions with sliced radishes and dried oregano.
- Chocolate Chili Barbecue Sauce – a homemade sauce made from the pan drippings (minus rendered fat) blended until smooth with fresh cilantro and blistered onions, peppers, garlic and dark chocolate.
Step by Step Instructions
- Make homemade Cocoa Chili Rub, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, chop vegetables and season roast with rub.
- Sauté some of the onion, bell peppers, tomatillos and poblanos in large oven safe dutch oven over medium high heat, reserving the rest for later to make the barbecue sauce.
- Place seasoned roast, fat side up, on pepper mixture in dutch oven and place in preheated oven.
- Bake hot, uncovered, for 20 minutes to start to brown and sizzle the fat layer.
- Then reduce oven from 450 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the roast from oven and carefully add chicken stock, garlic, chocolate, raisins and tomatoes, stirring just a bit to prevent any charred bits on the bottom.
- Return roast to oven and continue cooking low and slow at 300 degrees, turning every half hour for around 4 more hours. Or until the meat easily fall aparts in the middle and has a crisp, craggly crust. Note – When turning check liquid levels to ensure at least 1/3 of the roast remains covered and the aromatics and vegetables do not burn. Fat does not count as liquid so do not be deceived by a layer of fat because it will burn.
- Remove pork to a bowl and shred, seasoning to taste with additional Cocoa Chili Rub.
- Then, make homemade Chocolate Chili Barbecue Sauce. Pour pan drippings and softened vegetables into a large blender or food processor. Let sit until the fat rises then spoon out or pour off the separated fat layer then blend. Meanwhile char remaining onions, peppers and garlic in a hot skillet then add to a blender with fresh cilantro and pan drippings. Blend until smooth, streaming in additional stock or light beer as needed. Pour blender contents back into still warm skillet. Sprinkle in remaining dark chocolate and stir until combined to finish the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sweeten with brown sugar, if desired.
- Toss shredded pork with sauce to coat.
- Serve on a toasted roll with Cilantro Lime Slaw, Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes.
How to Store
Pulled pork will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or vacuum seal and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Have more cooking time? Roast it even lower and slower. 12-18 hours in a 200 degree oven makes for foolproof, tender delicious pork. Simply season in the morning and let the roast dry marinate all day. Omit the liquid and veg from the pan and pop in a 200 degree oven to cook while you sleep. The next day, make the sauce by roasting the veggies separately then assemble and serve your crowd!
- Need to make it even faster? Make slow cooker pulled pork. Using a boneless pork roast prepare as directed and place in slow cooker rather than dutch oven. Cook on low 8-10 hours, remove pork, cool liquid and blend until smooth, shred pork and serve. To add variety of texture reheat on a sheet pan in a hot oven until the top is crispy.
- To make pulled pork in an instant pot season as directed and place in instant pot rather than dutch oven. Set electric pressure cooker to 90 minutes on high pressure and allow to decompress naturally (at least 30 min!). You can even make pulled pork with a frozen roast in the instant pot! Set for 120 minutes if frozen and allow to decompress naturally.
Perfect for serving a crowd this pulled pork recipe makes a LOT! Roughly 12 servings for a 5 pound boneless roast.
Other pulled pork meal ideas
- 6-7 pound pork shoulder roast bone in ‘butt’ or Boston butt roast, or 4-5 pound boneless
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium yellow onions sliced
- 2 large bell peppers red or orange, rough chopped
- 1 medium poblano chili sliced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper sliced
- 4 medium tomatillos peeled and quartered
- 2 medium tomatoes quartered
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 8-10 cloves garlic 1 head
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate at least 60% cocoa, chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock light beer or water
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 12 medium potato rolls split and butter toasted
- 4 cups Cilantro Lime Coleslaw
- 3/4 cup Pickled Red Onions and Radishes
Cocoa Chili Pork Rub
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Up to 24 hours in advance pat roast dry with paper towels and season generously with Cocoa Chili Rub. Reserving unused rub to season the cooked pork later. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature when ready to cook.
- In a dutch oven or cast iron pan large enough to fit the roast heat oil until smoking. Add half the onions, half the bell peppers, half the poblanos, half the jalapeno and all the the tomatillos.
- Place seasoned pork roast, fat side up, on top of vegetables and cook, uncovered, in preheated 450 degree oven.
- After 20 minutes reduce oven to 300 degrees. Add chicken stock, 1/2 the garlic, 1/4 cup chocolate, raisins and tomatoes, stirring slightly to prevent vegetables from sticking.
- Continue cooking, turning every half hour, until the meat easily falls apart with a crispy craggly crust, about 4 hours more. When turning check liquid levels to ensure at least 1/3 of the roast remains covered and the aromatics and vegetables do not burn. Fat does not count as liquid so do not be deceived by a layer of fat because it will burn.
- Remove pork to a bowl. Once cool enough to handle shred with two forks and season with reserved Cocoa Chili Rub.
- Pour pan drippings and softened vegetables into a large blender or food processor. Wait for it to cool and for fat to rise, then scoop separated fat off the top and discard.
- Meanwhile, wipe out skillet or dutch oven and place on the stove top over medium heat. Add remaining onion, bell peppers, poblano pepper, garlic and jalapeno cooking until slightly browned and softened.
- Add vegetables to blender with pan drippings and fresh cilantro. Blend until smooth, streaming in additional stock or light beer as needed.
- Pour sauce back into still warm skillet and sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup dark chocolate. Stir until melted and evenly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sweeten if needed with brown sugar and keep Chocolate Chili Sauce warm over low heat.
- Toss shredded pork with Chocolate Chili Sauce to coat and serve on a toasted roll with Cilantro Lime Slaw and a few Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes.