North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ for breakfast? Why not!
Pulled pork has become very popular in the last ten years. I do have to laugh at all the late comers! I have been eating pulled pork BBQ since I was a kid. On three day weekends, we sometimes took a drive to North Carolina to pay a visit to relatives there. Big southern country style meals at a relative's home were great. Hopin' in the car and going to a local BBQ stand was also something we looked forward to.
In North Carolina, a pulled pork BBQ sandwich is more popular than BBQ ribs or chicken! Years ago, pulled pork BBQ sandwiches were usually small in size and sold on a small hamburger bun. We ordered dozen of small pulled pork sandwiches to eat! Everybody would hop in the car with bags of pulled pork BBQ sandwiches and we would just take a drive in the scenic countryside while chowing down. Pulled pork BBQ usually ended up getting smeared and spilled all over the interior of the car. Thats what we used to call North Carolina car air freshener!
I have seen plenty of different interpretations of pulled pork BBQ in recent years. Much of what is sold as pulled pork BBQ is totally incorrectly made. At the Las Vegas BBQ Championship, I noticed that some of what the losing contestants called pulled pork BBQ was simply big tough chunks of coarsely chopped roasted pork with some kind of a sweet BBQ sauce dumped all over it. That is not pulled pork BBQ!
Pork shoulder is the best choice for pulled pulled pork BBQ. Good pulled pork BBQ is roasted and basted constantly over a low temperature for several hours. The pork should be slow roasted over an open pit BBQ. Some folks use a smoker. Baking the pork in an oven is okay, if you are in an area that allows no smoke.
After roasting, the pork should barely be caramelized and the meat should have a golden color with a few brown highlights. The basted roasted pork should be very tender. A fork stuck in the meat and then twisted, should be able to tear a off a shredded piece of tender moist pork. The pork meat should easily pull from the bones and fat. The meat should easily shred with a fork or fingers. If the meat has to be chopped, because it won't shred, then the meat was not cooked correctly.
The only way to accomplish cooking a pork shoulder that is perfect for pulled pork is to slowly roast the pork at a maximum temperature of 275 degrees and to bast the pork once every 10 minutes or so with a North Carolina style thin vinegar BBQ basting sauce.
Before I make some of my southern BBQ readers angry, North Carolina is the easiest reference for pulled BBQ cooking. Slow roasted and basted pulled BBQ is popular in nearly every state in the south, especially in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
Last night I posted an Alabama style thin vinegar BBQ sauce basted spare rib recipe that turned out perfect! I did state that this same style of BBQ has its roots in the Carolinas. The end result of pulled meat BBQ style or thin vinegar basting BBQ is a nice clean mildly spicy flavor and the great flavor of the meat is not covered up by a thick sweet sauce!
It took about 3 1/2 hours to slowly roast and baste that Alabama style rack of ribs. A pork shoulder may take much more time to cook, so making extra basting sauce is necessary. The same sauce that was used to baste the Alabama style ribs is also used to baste a pork shoulder for pulled pork. At least double or triple the thin vinegar BBQ sauce recipe if you are roasting a large pork shoulder. You will need the extra basting sauce!
North Carolina Thin Vinegar Basting BBQ Sauce:
This is almost the same as the Alabama BBQ baste, but more mustard is added. This sauce is very thin and it is diluted with water, as it should be, because this sauce is meant to be mopped on the meat as often as possible. This is a thin sauce that is perfect for a BBQ basting mop. The sauce does not look like much and the sauce does not taste great if you taste it with a spoon. This sauce is designed to baste spare ribs quite often as they slowly roast. The final end result is a rack of ribs, that are saturated with a great thin vinegar, mustard and hot pepper flavor. The butter in the BBQ basting sauce will keep the meat very moist and tender after hours of slow roasting.
Place 3 cups of water in large sauce pot.
Add 4 ounces of unsalted sweet old fashioned butter. (Hand churned or plugra butter is best.)
Add 3/4 cup of cider vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.
Add 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard or 2 tablespoons of dried mustard.
Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of North Carolina style crushed red tabasco peppers in vinegar.
Note: This is a North Carolina standard table pepper sauce condiment. The hot pepper infused vinegar is sprinkled on food and the peppers remain in the bottle. The crushed hot peppers in the bottle are often used in recipes. If you cannot find this kind of pepper sauce, then a good substitute is coarse Korean red serrano chili pepper sauce or paste.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 4 tablespoons of Louisiana style mild cayenne pepper sauce.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
Place the pot over low heat.
Stir the ingredients together, till the butter melts and partially emulsifies into the vinegar basting sauce.
North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ:
The pork shoulder can be started in a 275º oven if you need to cook indoors. It can be cooked in a 250º smoker that is set to a trickle flow of smoke. A mix of 1 part hickory and 3 parts white oak is the best light smoke for this old fashioned BBQ!
If you run low on basting sauce, make more!
Place a whole pork shoulder or a 12 to 16 ounce piece (2 to 3 portions) of pork shoulder in a roasting pan.
Baste the pork shoulder.
Slow burn a fire of 3 parts split white oak and 1 part split hickory logs an open pit barbecue or deep char grill.
Wait till the fire starts to turn to embers.
Only occasionally add a fresh piece of fire wood off to the side, so the flames do not touch the pork. Adding wood will be necessary as the pork cooks.
Take the pork shoulder out of the pan and place it on a low temperature spot on the open pit grill.
Slow roast the pork shoulder over the low heat embers.
Lightly baste the pork shoulder often with the thin BBQ basting sauce. About once every 5 to 10 minutes the pork should be thinly basted.
By the time a few hours go by, there should only be a little bit of basting sauce left in the mixing bowl. The pork should have a light orange color with flecks of hot red pepper. The pork should be minimally caramelized from the low heat slow roasting and because of the constant basting.
The basted roasted pork should be very tender. A fork stuck in the meat and then twisted, should be able to tear a off a shredded piece of tender moist pork. The pork meat should easily pull from the bone and fat. The meat should easily shred with a fork or fingers.Pull the meat so it naturally shreds into small pieces. Big pieces can be coarsely chopped, instead of shredded like rope.
Serve the pulled pork BBQ with your favorite picnic style fixin's!
Save a portion of pulled pork BBQ for this breakfast recipe!
Boil 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
Add 1/2 cup of old fashioned stone ground hominy grits.
Stir with a whisk.
When the grits just start to thicken the liquid, reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer the grits till the become tender, and whisk the grits often.
Simmer till the grits become thick, but not stiff. Add water if the grits become too thick.
Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Keep the grits warm.
Heat a saute pan over mediu/medium low heat.
Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
Cut the top and bottom off of a small tomato.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Grill the tomato till it starts to become tender.
Keep the grilled tomato warm on a stove top.
North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ, Grits and Eggs Breakfast:
Heat a small saute pan over medium low heat.
Add 5 to 6 ounces of pulled pork BBQ.
Add 1/3 cup of water.
Slowly warm the pulled pork BBQ till it becomes a hot serving temperature (165º).
Simmer till the water evaporates.
Keep the pulled pork BBQ warm on a stove top.
Cook 1 or 2 eggs any style that you may prefer!
Use a ring mold to place the warm pulled pork BBQ on a plate.
Spoon a generous serving of grits on the plate.
Place the eggs on the plate.
Garnish the plate with the grilled tomato and an Italian parsley sprig.
Serve with toast, cornbread or biscuits on the side.
Pulled pork BBQ is nice for breakfast! Yum! ... Shawna