Friday, May 18, 2012

Eastern NC BBQ and Lexington Slaw

In my attempt to prepare myself for the ridiculously busy next two days of my life and my trip to Aruba I have not had time to be creative and make an awesome recipe for you to try. I've been trying to get everything together to make 5 dozen cupcakes today, get ready for my 10K tomorrow, make sure I have every last detail of my life packed away for my trip, etc. because we all know I will freak out on the airplane when I realize I forgot one measly thing. At least it won't be my child. KEVIN!
Anyway, luckily I had a friend from college send me a blog post he wrote in desperate hopes to be a guest poster on my blog. I know, I know, everyone is just DYING to be on here so I decided I'd give him a chance. Just kidding, actually this recipe sounds like the bomb dot com so you all should try it! Without further ado, Richard...

Barbecue (BBQ) in the south is more of a religion than a food. Heck, where I am from (Eastern North Carolina), people will argue about anything, religion, politics, sports, but when it comes to BBQ there is only one way to do it – with a vinegar based sauce. We don’t want to hear about your fancy ketchup based sauce that is used in Central and Western NC, the Mustard based sauce used in Upstate South Carolina, or if you think Memphis/Kansas City does it better. Oh and don’t start talking about Texas BBQ, that is usually Beef, not pork – but for the sake of argument Texas does Beef BBQ the best. Anyway, we really do not care how you do it. If you are in Eastern NC, it is our way or the highway.

This divide is so prevalent that I had a professor at East Carolina University once give a talk (and make a map – we were in the Geography department) of the physical divides throughout the Carolinas when it comes to the style of BBQ you eat. Basically if you are east of Interstate – 95, you eat with a vinegar based sauce, west of Raleigh/Durham you use a ketchup based/bbq sauce, and finally there is a small region in western NC and upstate SC where Mustard is the sauce of choice (I personally have never had this one). I have tried BBQ from all over and while all are good in their own ways, nothing can replace the vinegar based sauce that I grew up with. 
Maybe it is due to the memories of large gatherings where we cooked an entire pig with the sauce and just picked the meat off the bone, or maybe it was the fact that it brings back memories of the random BBQ restaurant along the country highway that no city slicker would have stopped at because it was not “fancy” enough and looked like it might be found in a 3rd world country (see photo above – who would stop there thinking that place was one of the best BBQ spots in Eastern NC?!?!). Hell, keep it that way; I don’t want everyone knowing about the best BBQ!

Anyway, I have desired, since moving to Washington DC to expose my new friends here with what good Eastern NC BBQ was like. I figured without a large pig cooker, I was screwed, but I came across this recipe online that gave a great baseline for cooking Eastern NC style BBQ in a slow cooker. It is quite possibly one of the easiest recipes ever! Here is my version of the recipe I found online:

Eastern NC Style BBQ
Yield ~ 10 servings
Time 12 hours

1 (5 pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (or center/end loin)
1 tablespoon salt
Ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

Start out by putting the pork into a slow cooker, seasoning with salt and pepper, and pouring vinegar on and around the pork. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

While you are waiting for the Pork to finish, you can make your slaw. (Before I get hate for making a ketchup based slaw, I will say that I did not have enough mayo in supply to make normal eastern NC slaw!!! – So in this case, we will consider this a tour of North Carolina as it relates to BBQ styles!)

Lexington Style Slaw
Yield ~6 servings

1 pound green cabbage
4 tablespoons ketchup or BBQ Sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Place cabbage into a large bowl and other ingredients into a separate bowl, combine them, mix thoroughly and then place in refrigerator. Nothing major here, just a simple southern dish!

After 10-12 hours, pork should just fall apart when you touch it. Take out of slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Peal apart with tongs/fork/fingers then take knife and lightly chop (if you want smaller pieces in the end chop more).

Take juice in slow cooker and strain off, saving approximately 2 cups for later. Place pork back into slow cooker.
Gather other dry ingredients and put into slow cooker, along with the 2 cups of strained juice. Mix these ingredients thoroughly in the slow cooker and at this point it is up to you to tinker the flavor to meet your needs. Add ingredients as needed to make it taste either hotter, sweeter, or more vinegary.

*Note: I have a special ingredient that I add (see Crown Royal bottle). This is apple cider vinegar that has been soaking in hot peppers. This particular blend has been at my parents’ house for years, but you can easily make this in a few months by getting small hot peppers and placing them in a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

Finally, keep warm until you are ready to serve either alone or on a sandwich. 


  1. Wondering if I can freeze this... and if so, should I freeze the sauce separately?

  2. From the recipe provider:

    You *could* cook the pork separate but since "pork drippings" are a part of the sauce, I am not sure how it would hold up being frozen and reheated separately.

    My advice would be to cook it as is and freeze the left overs. I have done it this way and while it is not as good as freshly cooked, it is not too bad.