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Carolina Style Pork Butt: Sweet Tasty Heat

Roast Pig

Barbeque has many regional contrasts, with some folks favoring sweet, others tomatoes and spice, still others prefering spicy or a bit sour. Carolina ‘que is known for smoky-sweet goodness, with some of that vinegar-sour I mentioned, and often quite a bit of spicy zing.

Pork is favored in the Carolinas, although the sauces and “mops” vary quite a bit, even with this small region. Eastern North Carolina tends towards a vinegar-based sauce wtih hop peppers or pepper flakes, while the Piedmont sauces are based more on tomato products like ketchup. Easterners like to roast the whole pig, while the Westerners in the state like the pork shoulder cut, or “butt.”

Here’s a recipe that combines elements of both of these styles. I like the pork butt roast, as it’s easy to handle, roasts and smokes well, and shreds nicely once it’s cooked. Often I heavily coat a roast in a rub and with oil, then slow-roast in an oven or smoker.

This recipe is similar, but uses one of the vinegar mop basting sauces popular in the coastal Carolinas:

Varying the cayenne and paprika can produce more or less heat, as well as smokiness if you’re not using a smoker. I’ve also tried it with a bit of Liquid Smoke for rich, deep smoky essence.

The finished roast should be cooled enough to handle, then shredded. Sandwiches are the classic use for this flavorful meat; I like to mix in a bit of the leftover basting sauce, then add pickles, onions and horseradish sauce. (Yeah, I’m one of those.) Make it your way, of course! And as always,

Enjoy the (Tar Heel Tasty) Heat!

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