Throughout the southeastern states up to the Washington D.C area the air is filled with barbecue smoke and aroma. It is Memorial Day weekend and it seems everybody is firing up the grills, which is a good thing because I love the smell of charring meat and fat. Although Virginia has its own barbecue recipe which I favor because it resembles the Filipino barbecue in preparation and taste, I made North Carolina style pulled-pork barbecue just to compare and I can say I also like it. The basting sauce is very simple, does not have garlic, onions, and ketchup and is not very sweet, a little bit vinegary but still okay. I served the pulled-pork barbecue with a layer of creamy coleslaw and had the sandwich with a large glass of minty melonade, yumm, yumm.
North Carolina Pulled-Pork Barbecue
(recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine, June 2008 issue)
3½ cups cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
8 - 10 pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast with skin
10 pound hardwood coal for grilling
- Bring vinegar to a boil with pepper flakes, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a stainless steel pan until sugar has dissolved, cool. Set aside 2 C to serve with sandwiches.
- While sauce cools, score pork skin in a crosshatch pattern, cutting through skin and fat but not into meat. Pat meat dry and rub all over with 1 tablespoon each salt and ground black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before grilling.
- Prepare grill for indirect heat cooking over low heat, leaving space in middle for disposable roasting pan.
- When coal has cooled to 300°F, put disposable roasting pan on bottom between the mounds of coal, then fill pan halfway with water. Add a couple of handfuls of unlit coal to each mound of coal. Put grill rack on.
- Oil grill rack, then put pork, skin side up, on rack above roasting pan. Grill pork, with lid ajar, basting meat with sauce and turning every 30 minutes. To maintain a temperature of 275 degrees, add a couple of handfuls of unlit coal to each side every 30 minutes until meat is fork-tender, about 7 - 8 hours, and internal temperature is 190 degrees.
- Cut large pieces of meat into bite-size pieces. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred using 2 forks. Transfer into a bowl.
- Layer shredded meat on toasted bun, add a layer of coleslaw. Serve with reserved vinegar sauce on the side.
Gourmet's note: Pork can be roasted in a large roasting pan, covered with parchment then foil, in middle of a 350 degree oven. Roast 1 hour, then pour 1 cup vinegar sauce over meat. Roast 1 hour more, then baste with 1 cup more sauce. Continue to roast, covered, adding water (½ cup at a time) to the pan if needed, until fork-tender, about 2 hours more. Remove parchment and foil and roast another 45 minutes to 1 hour until skin is crisp.