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Saturday, May 8, 2010

North Carolina BBQ - by request

I do take requests here. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to the request, but with a little reminding, I try to find what you are looking for.

I made this bbq pork for a Christmas party, where my lovely Italian friend Luisa tried it. It's a traditional North Carolina pulled pork. John K. who is from N. Carolina, may have a different opinion but this recipe came from Steve Raichlen's excellent BBQ book BBQ USA, and he does know his way around a smoker. [All Raichlen's bbq books are excellent, by the way.]

North Carolina pulled pork is different because the sauce is a somewhat spicy and highly vinegary sauce, nothing like what most folks think of as bbq sauce. But, it is absolutely addictive.

Nothing about the process is difficult, but it takes a while because great bbq'ed pork is cooked low and slow. I prefer to cook it outside on the grill because it is easier to inject some smoke. It can be made in the oven, but you may end up smoking up your house. Or you can skip the smoke part. Still tastes good but never as good as pork with some smoke added.

The recipe calls for a bone-in pork butt (despite its name, a pork butt is the shoulder). I can't usually find a bone-in pork butt at my local CostCo but a boneless one works too.

Lexington Pulled Pork Sandwiches
(serves 12)

For the rub:
  ● 4 tsp sweet paprika
  ● 1 tbsp brown sugar
  ● 1 tbsp salt
  ● 1 tsp black pepper
  ● 1 tsp white pepper
  ● 1 tsp dry mustard
  ● 1 tsp garlic powder
  ● 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper

For the pork:
  ● 1 boston butt, bone-in pork shoulder, 5-7 pounds
  ● hickory chips, for smoking, soaked in water for 1 hour

Lexington Vinegar Sauce
  ● 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  ● 1/2 cup ketchup
  ● 2 tbsp brown sugar
  ● 1 tbsp hot sauce, Crystal is the preferred brand here
  ● 4 tsp salt
  ● 4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  ● 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  ● 1 tsp white pepper
  ● 1 1/2 tbsp BBQ rub, reserved from pork rub above

Lexington Slaw:
  ● 1 medium green cabbage, about 2 pounds
  ● 1 cup Lexington Vinegar Sauce
  ● kosher salt, to taste
  ● 12 hamburger buns


Make the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix. Set aside 1 1/2 tablespoons for the Lexington Vinegar Sauce. Sprinkle the remaining rub all over the pork, patting it onto the meat.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling* and preheat to medium-low. Place the wood chips in the smoke chamber or on the hot side in a pouch made of foil. Turn the heat up to high and run the grill until you see smoke. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Place the pork, skin side side up (if there is skin), over a drip pan on the not heated side of the grill. Cook the pork until darkly browned on the outside and very tender inside, at least 4 hours and as long as 6 hours. The internal temperature should be 195℉. If the pork starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with foil.

While the pork is cooking, make the sauce and slaw. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl with 1/2 cup water. Whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve. The sauce will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before using.

To make the slaw: remove the core from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into 8 chunks and process in a food processor, pulsing to cut the cabbage into small pieces. The cabbage should be chopped, not sliced. You can also cut it with a knife by slicing it, then cutting up the slices into small pieces. Place the cabbage in a large non-reactive bowl and stir in vinegar sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt. Let stand for 10 minutes, then taste again for seasoning, adding more salt or vinegar sauce to get it where you like it. The coleslaw can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Store in the fridge until needed to build sandwiches. If you make it just before you take the pork off the grill, you can leave it at room temperature if you plan on serving the pork right after you pull it apart.

Transfer the cooked pork to a cutting board, cover it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. Pull the pork into large pieces, discarding any bones or lumps of fat. Heavy-duty silicone oven mitts are very helpful here. Using a fork, shred the large chunks into thin shreds.

To build a sandwich, put pulled pork on hamburger bun, top with slaw and add vinegar sauce to taste.

*Indirect grilling means one side of the grill is hot while the other side is not. You cook the pork on the cold side. You put your chips on the hot side.  This setup emulates an oven; the meat never sits over direct flame and it cooks low and slow.