I know that the Carolinas are loved for their bbq. In fact, I enjoy a good mustard-based sauce, especially on chicken–I equate mustard-based sauce with Carolina bbq. Obviously, I didn’t know how many variations of bbq sauce those two states boast-6 between them. In NC, they include a vinegar and pepper sauce in Eastern NC, a tomato-based with vinegar in the Piedmont region, and and a thicker, tomato-based sauce in the Western region. In SC, the sauces are a tangy, mustard-based sauce in the middle and Low Country regions, a vinegar and black pepper version in the Pee Dee region, and a thick or thin tomato version in the Upstate region.
So, why all the geek-driven knowledge of Carolina bbq? Well, I came across a recipe for Eastern NC bbq sauce when I was in need of a crock pot recipe for a large piece of pork loin that I had defrosted and desperately needed to cook. Eastern NC bbq? It intrigued me and it looked so easy, as compared to say, this fussy, but delicious recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. The best part is, I’ll be you have most of these ingredients in your cupboards.
The result after 6 or so hours of cooking (and making the whole house smell amazing) was pork that pulled apart and sauce that had melded together beautifully. The onions put the dish over the top-they looked as though I had spent time caramelizing them, when in fact, they just cook along with the pork.
Now, on to the “two-way” part. I thought that since this bbq sauce was thin and light, vs. tomato-laden and thick/heavy, it could work in various dishes, from an escabeche-inspired soft taco, to a Southern-inspired pulled pork sandwich. The pulled pork and onions would also make for a killer empanada stuffing. Hmmm…
I do hope you try this recipe, and experiment! If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed your Eastern NC pulled pork.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork in an Eastern NC BBQ Sauce
- 2 large yellow onions, cut from pole to pole and sliced to your liking
- 3 lbs. pork loin (be sure that it has a decent fat cap) or pork shoulder
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar or pomegranate balsamic vinegar (which is what I used)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 6 tbsp brown sugar, dark
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 Tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
Layer the sliced onions on the bottom of the crock pot. Place the pork loin on top of the onions, fat cap up. Place the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the pork and onions. Set the crock pot on low and cook for 6-7 hours until pork is fork-tender and ready to pull apart. Baste the pork with the sauce and onions about once an hour. Also, as the pork nears finishing, check the acidity of your sauce to adjust for sweet/sour ratio that is to your liking.
Remove pork and shred/pull. Reserve sauce and onions separate to serve a la minute with the pork. If you keep the pork and sauce together, the sauce will get absorbed and you will not be able to “dress” your dish and have those juices flowing down your chin!
While I’m at it, allow me to share this simple dressing for broccoli slaw!
- 1 bag broccoli slaw
- 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise (full-fat or low-fat)
- 4 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Place broccoli slaw in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients fully. Pour over broccoli slaw and toss to coat.