Carolina-style barbecue, particularly North Carolina’s Eastern style, means slow-roasting a whole pig that is basted with a spice-and-vinegar mixture while cooking. The rub brings sweet and heat to the pork, while the vinegar tenderizes the meat.
Hog roasts, also known as “pig pickin’”, are an all-day cooking endeavor over wood and charcoal fires. The tender portions of the pig are chopped, shredded, and seasoned further with vinegar sauce. Then you can feed the entire family reunion with succulent pulled pork and a whole host of trimmings and side dishes.
Comparatively, the Western-style version, epitomized by barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina, specializes in only roasting pork shoulders for less waste and faster cooking. Western-style North Carolina sauce also includes a touch of tomato as a base. If you cross state lines, South Carolina’s barbecue sauce is mustard-based and uses cane sugar rather than molasses, a deviance that causes physical discomfort to North Carolina barbecue purists.
Outside of the Tar Heel State, it’s possible to prepare a greatly simplified version of Carolina-style barbecue without the (worthwhile) fuss of a whole hog roast. Short of heading to a local barbecue restaurant that offers a pulled pork sandwich, here’s how you can make Western-style North Carolina ‘cue using Boston Butt (also known as pork shoulder). A topping of sweet, creamy coleslaw on the sandwich counters the peppery tang of the meat and sauce. And, if you’re willing to be a little irreverent, we’re throwing in a bit of South Carolina for your mouth.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 pound green cabbage (about half a medium cabbage)
- 1 large carrot, peeled (optional)
- 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon celery seeds
Finely chop or grate cabbage and carrot. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and carrot. Cover, taste, and adjust seasonings. Chill for at least 1 hour, if possible.
Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork
What You’ll Need: 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 4-to-6 pound Boston Butt (with or without bone)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Place chopped onion on bottom of a slow cooker. Trim excess fat from Boston Butt and place in slow cooker on top of onions. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour on top of the pork. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker and place in a large bowl. Use forks to shred the meat. Discard the majority of fatty liquid in the slow cooker. Return meat to slow cooker and add Rub Some Butt Carolina BBQ Sauce™ barbecue sauce. While it is mustard-based like they do in South Carolina, your taste buds will thank you. Cover and cook on low 30 minutes.
Serve pulled pork sandwiches on hamburger buns. Top the sandwich with another layer of Rub Some Butt Carolina BBQ Sauce™ and creamy coleslaw.