Feature Friday: NC BBQ (pulled pork)

So every state claims they have the best BBQ, however I beg to differ, North Carolina has the best! Most people say "let's have a BBQ", which means cookout on the grill, but here in NC when you say BBQ you better be having some pulled pork with BBQ sauce. Nothing gets folks angrier than a hornet when you say BBQ and don't have actual BBQ.

So you ask what is barbecue? Well it means a whole hog cooked low and slow over a banked pit. The meat is pulled or chopped into moist strands, dressed with some remaining "mop" (the vinegar-and-red-pepper basting sauce), and mixed with cracklings. Now in NC people from the Eastern and Western part of the county have different ways of flavoring it. People from western North Carolina, in fact, prefer shoulder meat, but they sweeten the sauce with tomato or ketchup. People from the East prefer to use the entire hog.,

I prefer to use pork shoulder: It's easier to handle and not such a huge investment of time and money. 

  • 3 1/2 cups cider vinegar (20 fluid ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (8- to 10-pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (preferably butt end) with skin

Bring vinegar to a boil with sugar, 2 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp pepper in a small nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then cool. Set aside 2 cups vinegar sauce to serve with sandwiches.
While sauce cools, score pork skin in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife (forming 1-inch diamonds), cutting through skin and fat but not into meat. Pat meat dry and rub all over with 1 Tbsp each of salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before grilling. 

Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over low heat, leaving space in middle for disposable roasting pan.When coals have cooled to about 300°F put disposable roasting pan on bottom rack of grill between the 2 remaining mounds of coals, then fill pan halfway with water. Add a couple of handfuls of unlit charcoal to each charcoal mound, then put grill rack on so hinges are over coals. 

Oil grill rack, then put pork, skin side up, on rack above roasting pan. Grill pork, with lid ajar basting meat with sauce and turning over every 30 minutes until fork-tender (a meat fork should insert easily) and an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of meat (avoid bone) registers 190°F, 7 to 8 hours total. 

Transfer pork to a cutting board. If skin is not crisp, cut it off with at least 1/4 inch fat attached  and roast, fat side down, in a 4-sided sheet pan in a 350°F oven until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. 

When meat is cool enough to handle, shred it using 2 forks. Transfer to a bowl. 

If you don't want to grill it you can cook it in the oven in a large roasting pan, covered with parchment paper and then foil, in a 350°F oven. Roast 1 hour, then pour 1 cup vinegar sauce over meat. Roast 1 hour more, then baste with 1 cup more sauce. Continue to roast, covered, adding water (1/2 cup at a time) to pan if needed, until fork-tender, about 2 hours more. Cut off skin Meanwhile, return pork to oven and roast, uncovered, on middle rack, until meat is browned and skin is crisp, about 45 minutes more. Total time is 5 to 6 hours total roasting time, depending on size of roast 

Now BBQ is not complete without COLDSLAW!! Also while you are at it pick up a case of Cheerwine and that will make it complete!


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