Cocoa-and-Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops


Chef Tim Love rubs meat with a bit of sugar to help brown it but finishes the dish over low heat so the sugar doesn't char the outside. Here, he coats pork chops with cocoa and chile powders for a rub that's like a deconstructed version of Mexican mole sauce.Plus: 20 Smart Tips for Everyday GrillingF&W's Pork Cooking Guide

Cocoa-and-Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops
Photo: © Quentin Bacon
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins


  • 2 quarts water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • Four 1 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pure ancho chile powder

  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing


  1. In a large bowl, combine the water with the red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Add the pork chops and let brine at room temperature for 1 hour.

  2. Light a grill and create a cool zone. (For a charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side; for a gas grill, leave one side unlit.) In a bowl, mix the cocoa, sugar and ancho powder with 1 tablespoon of salt.

  3. Drain the pork chops and pat dry, removing any bits of crushed pepper. Brush generously with olive oil. Roll the pork chops in the cocoa rub and pat to help it adhere. Grill over moderately high heat for 4 minutes, turning the chops once or twice until lightly browned. Transfer the chops to the cool zone, cover and grill for about 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 135° for medium meat. Let the chops rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Cocoa and chiles add a light, appealing bitterness to this spicy rub. For pairing, look for a wine with a lot of sweet fruit, like Zinfandel from California's Paso Robles region.

Related Articles