Bonafide BBQ buffs are serious about their slow-smoked meats, compendium of sauces and the regions that inspire a variety of flavors and cooking techniques. While Woody’s Bar-B-Q is proud to showcase an assortment of regional BBQ-inspired dishes such as our Texas Beef Brisket and Memphis-Style Spare Ribs, it’s our Carolina Pulled Pork that has not only inspired countless patrons to join us for lunch or dinner, but also serves as the inspiration for this particular blog. We’re proud to shine the spotlight on the succulent and savory dishes from the Tar Heel State and the cooking techniques that set them apart from the rest of the nation.
BBQ is often territorial – whether from one backyard BBQ to the next or divided by state lines. North Carolina boasts an ongoing East vs. West battle of BBQ styles driven by where you might be at any given time in the state…
Lexington-style: Born out of Lexington, NC in the early 1900’s, this “western” North Carolina BBQ features pork shoulder smoked long and slow over hickory until the meat is tender to the point of falling apart. Basted with a mixture of tomato, vinegar and spice, the smoked meat – whether pulled, sliced, chopped or chunked – is served traditionally with a red slaw swimming in a ketchup base, rather than the traditional mayo. This style of BBQ is so popular, it gave birth to the Lexington Barbecue Festival in 1984 – an annual tradition that is held on one of the last two Saturdays in October.
Lexington-Style Red Slaw Recipe (from SeriousEats.com)
⅔ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup Ketchup
¼ cup Sugar
2 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Hot Sauce
3½ lb Green Cabbage
⅔ cup Sugar
⅓ cup Kosher Salt
For the dressing: Whisk together vinegar, ketchup, sugar, black pepper, and hot sauce in small bowl. For the Slaw: Combine cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt and toss to combine. Let stand five minutes, then transfer to a large colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Transfer cabbage blend to a salad spinner and spin dry. Don’t have access to a salad spinner? Place cabbage mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a paper towels then blot dry with more towels. Return to large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or sugar.
Eastern-style: Considered to be one of the oldest forms of American BBQ, Eastern-style Carolina barbecue features the whole hog, slow-smoked over a hardwood like hickory or oak. Great care is given to its preparation, both prior to and during smoking. The hog is often rubbed with a spice mixture before being placed in the smoker and then basted in a mixture of tomato sauce, vinegar and spices throughout the cooking process. It is typically served chopped with a traditional side of mayonnaise-based coleslaw.
Eastern North Carolina Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce Recipe (from Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen)
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the flavors are perfectly blended. Serve over your favorite BBQ meats.
Another sauce that is synonymous with Carolina BBQ is the traditional mustard sauce. But that’s a SOUTH Carolina tradition, best reserved for a blog of its own… so stay tuned!
Hungry! Take a trip to North Carolina to get a taste of the real thing. While Woody’s Bar-B-Q doesn’t currently have a presence in the Tarheel State (but we hope to soon!), there’s no harm in sharing what the North Carolina BBQ Society calls the BBQ Trail. Follow this link to a map of some of North Carolina’s historic local pits: http://www.ncbbqsociety.com/bbqtrail.html. No plans to visit North Carolina any time soon, stop by your favorite Woody’s Bar-B-Q for our North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich or Pulled Pork Dinner! Learn more at www.woodys.com.