North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Lexington or Eastern-style pulled pork? This recipe combines the best of North Carolina's two BBQ signatures, along with spice rub and "hog sauce."
Photo by Aaron Graubart

Courtesy Buxton Hall BBQ Book of Smoke, by Elliott Moss

North Carolina has two BBQ camps. Lexington-style is usually made with a tomato-based sauce and pork shoulder or butt (also called Boston butt). The other, Eastern-style, focuses on whole-hog cooking and uses a vinegar- and pepper-based sauce, without tomato.

This recipe is the best of both worlds. It slathers pork butt with a vinegar-pepper sauce. The delicious pulled pork it creates is usually topped with slaw and served on a soft bun.

Ingredients
  • 5 pounds bone-in pork butt
  • 2 cups Rib Rub (recipe below)
  • 1 cup Hog Sauce, for finishing (recipe below)
Directions

Rinse and pat dry pork butt. Place in large bowl, and generously apply Rib Rub. Refrigerate, uncovered, 8 hours.

Heat smoker and oven to 225˚F. Remove pork butt from refrigerator, and smoke for 30 minutes in roasting pan.

Remove pork butt from smoker. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Place on wire rack on sheet pan, and cook 5 hours in oven.

Remove pork butt from oven, and remove foil. Place back on rack, and cook 5 more hours, or until internal temperature is 180˚F–205˚F and outside has nice bark.

Let rest for 20 minutes. Chop meat or shred with forks or your fingers. Toss with Hog Sauce and serve more at table. Serves 4–8.

Rib Rub Ingredients
  • 4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup ground red pepper
  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Rib Rub Directions

Place ingredients in medium mixing bowl or food processor. Stir or pulse until combined.

Store mixture in resealable plastic bag or an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes 7 cups.

Hog Sauce Ingredients
  • ½ gallon cider vinegar
  • ½ gallon distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup fine-ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup fine-ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 lemons, halved, wrapped in cheesecloth
Hog Sauce Directions

Combine ingredients in large pot. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove lemons, and let mixture cool.
Sauce can be stored inside vinegar jugs, or any containers with tight-fitting lids. Refrigerated, sauce will keep up to 1 year. Makes 1 gallon.

Pair It

June Rodil, beverage director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality in Austin, which includes Lamberts Barbecue, provides wine recommendations. Daisy Ryan, the assistant beverage director, provides beer and cocktail pairing ideas.

Wine Think vibrant-hued, juicy rosés to pair with pulled pork. “The deeper color means deep, drying tannins that are exactly what your palate will be craving to clean the fattiness that lingers,” says Rodil.

Rodil’s pick Love You Bunches, from Stolpman Vineyards in Los Olivos, California. “It’s somewhere between a rosé and a red wine, and all I could think about was eating a pulled pork sandwich.”

Beer Try a farmhouse-style ale, which should have enough fruity sweetness to contrast with vinegar and spice, plus offers palate-cleansing carbonation.

Ryan’s pick Seizoen Bretta, from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales in Oregon.

Cocktail Think American rye whiskey, like a Manhattan on the rocks, says Ryan. (You might also try pitmaster Ed Mitchell’s favorite: a mix of moonshine and Wild Turkey American Honey, a Bourbon-based liqueur.)

Meet the Hipster Pitmaster: Elliott Moss

Hip brewpubs and a crackling live music scene add flavor to Asheville, North Carolina, as does Buxton Hall Barbecue, where partner/pitmaster Elliott Moss blurs boundaries.

“My dad had a welding shop, and he would build smokers for cooking hogs,” he says. “We cooked whole hogs for the holidays.”

In 2007, the South Carolina native moved to Asheville to help open The Admiral restaurant, where he scored a James Beard nomination. He decided to chase his BBQ dreams and is back to cooking pasture-raised whole hogs with Eastern Carolina-style vinegar-pepper sauce.

“There’s nothing cheffy about the barbecue,” says Moss—it’s still an up-all-night venture, but now comes with trendy vegetable sides.

BBQ Tips From the Chef

“I would encourage people to try to cook whole hogs,” says Moss. “Don’t be scared of over- or undercooking it. Take breaks. Have someone cooking with you. It can take 12 to 20 hours. It’s a long process. After it’s done, it takes another hour to pull the meat.”

Regarding barbecue sauce: “It should be whatever people prefer. People like what they grew up on. ”

Published on May 25, 2017
About the Author
Kara Newman 
Spirits Editor

Kara Newman reviews spirits and writes about spirits and cocktail trends for Wine Enthusiast. She's the author of Shake.Stir.Sip.: 40 Effortless Cocktails Made In Equal Parts (Chronicle Books, coming fall 2016) as well as Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books, 2013).   Email: spirits@wineenthusiast.net



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