Monday, July 5, 2010

And now, a detour from costuming

I've been asked several times over the last couple of days for the recipe I use for Carolina-style barbeque pork. Because I love you all, here it is. Just don't bring it to any potlucks we'll both be attending without checking with me first. Ha!

Ok, so after a little research I discovered that this is Lexington or Western North Carolina style barbeque. A couple of things make it so: it's done with pork shoulder, not a whole pig, and the sauce has a little bit of ketchup in it. Apparently, true Eastern North Carolina barbecue is done with a whole pig and there is NO ketchup in the sauce. But, I'm a westerner, so Western style it is.

Take your pork shoulder (pork loin will NOT work-it is too lean. You want all the fat and connective tissue). It doesn't matter how big it is, just keep in mind that you're going to cook it for 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound. It also doesn't matter if it's boneless or not. Leave the fat cap on. Cover it in your favorite dry rub. Here is the one I use, from Steven Raichlen's Barbeque Bible. Some people don't really use a rub, just salt and pepper. Do what you like. Let your shoulder sit to absorb the rub flavors for 1-24 hours. I have never waited 24 hours because I rarely plan that far in advance.

When you're ready to cook, figure out how long you're going to need. Your going to be cooking this at a low temperature for a long time. You'll need 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound of meat. This piece of meat is 3.68 lbs and I'm cooking it for about 5 hours at 275-300 degrees. I do mine on a gas grill. You can use a charcoal grill, or the oven if you don't have a grill. The oven won't give you the smoke flavor or the classic red layer directly under the crust, but it's still yummy.

Preheat your grill and get your wood chips smoking. I heat the grill on high, all three burners, with wood chips in a drip pan in the back corner covered by another drip pan. When the wood chips are smoking, turn the front and back burners to low and the middle one off, or set up the grill for however you do indirect cooking at 275-300 degrees. Put your shoulder on the cool part of the grill, or in the oven, fat cap up. Close the grill. Don't touch it for at least an hour. When your wood chips stop smoking, add more.

When about half your estimated cooking time has passed, start adding some moisture with a mop sauce. The easiest mop sauce is half cider vinegar, half water or broth. Sometimes I add crushed red pepper flakes or sliced onion, but often I just go with vinegar and water (this is better than some other uses for vinegar and water!). Baste your shoulder with mop sauce generously every hour or so. Keep your wood chips smoking.

When your shoulder has reached an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees, it's ready. It will look all black and crispy on the outside. Take it off the grill and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Then just pull it apart. It will be SUPER HOT so use two forks or use latex gloves and work fast. The shoulder should just fall apart. If it doesn't, you can put it in the oven for longer until it does.

After you pull it apart, or chop it if you prefer, add your sauce. Carolina-style sauce is thin and vinegar based. The recipe I use is: 2 cups of cider vinegar, 3 tbs ketchup, 2 tbs brown sugar, 4 tsp coarse salt, 1 tbs hot sauce, 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1-2 tsp ground black pepper. Again, courtesy of Steven Raichlen and his fantastic bbq books. Add enough of the sauce to the shredded or chopped pork to season it and keep it moist.

Serve this with cole slaw and hush puppies, or on a white bun with cole slaw piled on top. I like it with traditional creamy cole slaw, Jonathan likes it with cole slaw made by adding more of the vinegar sauce to the shredded cabbage. Either way it is YUM.

Here's what it looks like done, with my first attempt at hush puppies.

If anyone from any part of Carolina has an issue with any of this, feel free to tell me, but please be nice about it. I'm a California girl and there's a reason I'm calling it Carolina-STYLE barbeque. I know y'all can be touchy about your 'que. Enjoy!

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