Coffee & Cola Pulled Pork (& strangers)

My grandma has never met a stranger.

Do you know someone like that? Can meet anyone, anywhere and find some common ground, some topic to discuss, or a mutual acquaintance.

It happened two weekends ago when my grandma finally met Seth. I knew immediately they would hit it off – as Seth also has a touch of that gift. He’s open and welcoming, able to hold a conversation with anyone (including the befuddled bartender who thinks he’s dreamy and sheepishly slides him her number ahem.)

They sat and chatted in the sunshine, eventually coming to realize they had mutual friends in common – decades apart and separated by miles. I drifted in and out of the conversation – remembering a story my grandma had told me.

She had been at the grocery store, surveying the pork butts that were on sale. She selected hers; put it in her cart, ready to head for the checkout. A woman stopped her, “Um, excuse me? But…how do I cook this?” Gesturing toward the roasts, at a complete loss, looking for guidance.

My grandma explained her routine, the different seasonings and a bit of liquid in a crockpot.

“I like to use a nice dark soda or a cup of coffee,” my grandma told her.

Listening intently, the woman nodded and asked, honestly, “With cream and sugar?”

Every time my grandmother tells that story she laughs, and every time I make pulled pork I think of it, smiling big. For this roast (a gift from Seth, one of the many perks of dating a farmer), I took my grandma’s advice – adding a bit of dark soda to the crockpot – and incorporated the coffee into a dry rub, with a base of brown sugar. But, sadly, no cream.

Coffee & Cola Pulled Pork

Pork butt/shoulder roast ~3 pounds

1 cup brown sugar

1 TBSP instant coffee

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. granulated garlic

½ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. chili powder

¼ tsp. onion powder

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 bottle dark soda (I prefer Mexican made Coke, the good stuff with the real sugar)

Pat pork roast dry with paper towel before placing in a slow cooker.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, salt, coffee, and spices to make a rub. Sprinkle over pork and massage into roast, rotating to evenly coat. Pour in cola before covering with lid and cooking on low heat for 6 – 8 hours.

When pork easily falls apart after being pressed with a fork, remove from slow cooker and place on cutting board until cool enough to handle. Shred meat with forks.

Meanwhile, strain the fat from the juices in the slow cooker and pour into a medium saucepan. Bring liquid to boil over high heat. Boil rapidly for five to ten minutes, or until juices have reduced by half. Pour over shredded pork and serve with homemade brioche buns and cilantro lime coleslaw, recipe follows.

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

2 limes, zested and juiced

½ cup mayo

½ cup sour cream

½ head green cabbage, finely shredded

4 – 6 whole carrots, depending on size, finely shredded

½ cup chopped cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime zest and juice, mayo, and sour cream. Add the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, adjusting amounts to desired taste.

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