Chopped or Pulled, Slow and Steady Wins the Race.
M: The South loves its pork. At least here in the Piedmont, you don’t have to go far to find some divey BBQ joint promising the best pulled or chopped plate you’ll ever taste. My favorites all seem to have signs out front featuring cartoon pigs dressed in human clothes (chef’s hats, aprons, bow ties, etc). I won’t say there is a correlation between a well-dressed pig and good BBQ, but I take a pig in a tuxedo as a good sign. (K: I’m a believer in the pig in overalls, myself.)
Served piled high on the plate or in a bun, accompanied by a wide range of sides (collards, black eyed peas, Brunswick stew, etc …many of which also contain pork in some form), they all have something in common. They took a long time to get to your plate. A sloooow cook is key to a tender, flavor rich result.
Recipe: Chopped Pork Shoulder (Propane Grill Method)
Summary: Slow is the name of the game. Using low heat and a smoker box, great results can be reached on your propane grill. Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.
- 1 Boston Butt Pork Shoulder (about 4 lb)
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 c Apple Wood Chips
- Soak wood chips in water or beer at least 30 minutes and drain.
- On propane grill, set only leftmost burner to low and allow grill heat 15 minutes.
- Place wood chips in a metal smoker box or wrap loosely in aluminum foil and rest under grate close to flame.
- Rub shoulder generously with salt and pepper and place on top shelf of grill fat side down as far from flame as possible.
- Keeping lid closed to allow smoke and heat to accumulate, let cook one hour.
- Keeping lid closed except to turn, flip the roast every 30 minutes for 4 to 5 more hours, until an internal temperature of about 160 degrees is reached (use meat or instant read thermometer).
- Remove from rack and let rest 20 minutes.
- Using two cleavers or heavy kitchen knives, chop pork into small, sandwich friendly pieces.
- Serve on hamburger buns, topped with cole slaw and barbeque sauce of choice.
Recipe: Unified North Carolina BBQ Sauce
Summary: Eastern Carolina meets Western Carolina in this simple vinegar based sauce. Ketchup gives it a nice balance, although EC purists might poke fun.
- 1 c White Vinegar
- 1 c Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 c Ketchup
- 2 T Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- Bring all ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Best if refrigerated overnight before using.
K: While everyone knows that smoking over a live flame is the path to truly great BBQ, there’s no arguing that it’s a bit of a time suck. Which is not to say it isn’t worth it, but many of us can’t devote an entire afternoon to babysitting a grill & flipping a roast every 30 minutes. At least, not as often as we probably have a hankering for it…..OK, not as often as I do, anyway. Whatever you do, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this signature Southern dish at home whenever you feel like it. Believe it or not, your slowcooker will produce a surprisingly great pulled pork, and with virtually no effort. No liquid smoke, either….though I do have a bit of a secret ingredient that helps out on the smoke front.
Recipe: Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker
Summary: Simple. Effective. Seriously good eating. This technique is utterly fantastic for whole chickens as well.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 11 hour(s)
- 2 Onions, Large – peeled & halved
- 3-4 lb. Pork shoulder or butt roast
- 1 Tbls Cajun spice blend (I use Gator Hammock Gator Sprinkle, but any fresh, high quality blend that you love will work here.)
- 1 Tbls Smoked Salt (go HERE for more on the smoked salt)
- 1/2 to 1 C. BBQ Sauce ( I’m not going to tell you what kind of sauce to use here, but if you’re at my house and I’m not mixing up my own, what you’ll get is this. It’s the only sauce I’ll spend money on rather than just make my own, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that I buy a case of this every year and have it shipped to me in Boston. Yes, that’s right, I go through at least 12 qts of BBQ sauce a year, what of it?)
- Rub the roast with the seasoning mix & smoked salt and set aside.
- Slice onions 1/2″ thick and scatter in the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Place roast on top of the onion bed, and gently pour sauce over the roast to coat. The goal is to coat, not wash off your seasonings, so be gentle about this.
- Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
- Remove from cooker and, using two forks, pull the meat apart into shreds.
- Toss with just a bit more sauce and smoked salt, and serve.