Eastern NC Style BBQ Sauce-Pulled Pork Two Ways

pulled-pork-sandwich-3-500.jpg

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…

taco-platter-500.jpg

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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!

pulled-pork-sandwich-close-500.jpg

Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

Place broccoli slaw in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients fully. Pour over broccoli slaw and toss to coat.

18 Responses to “Eastern NC Style BBQ Sauce-Pulled Pork Two Ways”

  1. I’m a SC girl, so I love me some SC bbq. However, I find that all of the carolina bbq sauces have a uniqueness that I can appreciate. The addition of slaw makes or breaks a pulled-pork sandwich. I like that you used broccoli slaw. YUM!

  2. Funny I’d stumble on this today, we’re doing pulled pork tomorrow! I’m from the Piedmont of NC and for us its Lexington style all the way. There’s a delicious place in Greensboro called Country BBQ thats hard to beat. But we do our best at home in the crock since we live halfway round the world now.

    I’ve made one very similar to this one you posted and it always goes over well on a bun with some red slaw and baked beans on the side!

  3. Samantha-I am a real convert to vinegar-based sauces after this. I”m glad you’re able to get your “Q” fix with the crockpot too.

  4. While this looks great, it’s not Eastern NC BBQ. I am from Eastern NC and the BBQ sauce is pretty much just apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes. There is a little more to it but no mustard, no worcestershire, no balsamic…

  5. Hi Trixie–hence the word “style”, or perhaps I should have said “inspired”. But, that’s what I do…I tweak and play, and clearly stated in the text what Eastern NC style is..obviously I took a bit of license! Heck, I made soft tacos with it!! PS…very good by the way. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. OMG- YUMMMMMMMMMMM–my mouth started waterering when looking at the pictures!!!!!!!…and I’m not kidding!

  7. real slow-cooked pastured pork, no matter the seasoning, will taste good… smile… I keep trying different spices and herbs too…

  8. Looks and sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  9. I was really excited to try this recipe. After waiting all week to make it and smelling it cooking all day, I was really disappointed. I was more in shock that anyone would even be able to eat this. I am not trying to be rude in any way, just surprised at how intense this was. I should have tasted the sauce first I guess before I committed to cooking this beautiful pork all day. I was very sad to say that just couldn’t eat it. It was so so strong. I even added some water after the fact and some more sugar and even some ketchup to try and sweeten it up and take the bite away. Thanks for sharing, but man, I don’t know how you do it.

  10. Liz…so sorry it was too strong for you. I wrote in the post–
    Also, as the pork nears finishing, check the acidity of your sauce to adjust for sweet/sour ratio that is to your liking.–

    It takes some finessing to get the balance to your liking. Thanks for trying it anyway. We sure did enjoy it for many days.

  11. That sandwich looks good!

  12. Poor Liz probably bought her pork from a supermarket where the hogs have not been selected for high PH (sweetness) and have been fed Paylean to make them leaner)

  13. Am I right in thinking that your crock-pot is clay and should be soaked in cold water then put in a cold oven to start cooking?

  14. I’m making this recipe now. I’m assuming, since you don’t mention it in your directions, that the crock pot should remain uncovered during cooking? I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  15. Richie-leave the crockpot covered.

  16. [...] Eastern NC Style BBQ Sauce Sandwich [...]

  17. [...]  IMg source [...]

  18. WHAT A GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY. HAD ALL THE INGREDIENTS IN HOUSE. FYI FOLKS, THE BEST BBQ IN USA IS NOT ON ANY GPS OR SIGNBOARD. EXIT 28 JUST BELOW BRUNSWICK GA. IS AN OLD RAMSHACKLED HOUSE HOUSING THE “GEORGIA pIG” HAVE BEEN THERE 40 YEARS WITH NOTHING BUT WORD OF MOUTH. A MUST STOP FOR BBQ LOVERS.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment