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Sometimes I feel like I’m living in enemy territory.

In North Carolina, a culinary divide runs through the middle of the state, putting the eastern half at odds with the western half when it comes to barbecue.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

If you grew up in the eastern part of the state, like I did, then chances are you are a devotee of so-called “Eastern style barbecue,” a tender pork dish made from the whole hog, pit cooked and served with a hot, salty vinegar sauce.

People from the western counties, like my husband, prefer Lexington or western style ‘cue, coarsely chopped roasted pork shoulder, served with a thin tart-sweet ketchup-based sauce that locals call “dip.”

Where we live now is right on the dividing line of the east-west barbecue debate. So, I can’t get my favorite Eastern-style barbecue without hopping in the car and taking a drive. Unless I make it at home.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

Which is just what I did this weekend for Sunday dinner. I whipped up a traditional North Carolina barbecue dinner with cole slaw and hushpuppies with homemade Eastern-style and Lexington-style sauce, so everybody left the table happy.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

Since I don’t have a barbecue pit in my backyard or the hours it takes to slow cook pork over hickory wood, I picked up a Smithfield golden rotisserie flavor marinated pork tenderloin at Walmart. Talk about a tasty time-saver.

Smithfield Marinated Pork is perfectly seasoned and expertly marinated, so all I had to do was throw it into my Crock-Pot on low for about seven hours. At the end of the cooking time, it was falling-apart tender. I used a fork to shred it, though I probably should have chopped it to make it more like authentic North Carolina barbecue.

The tenderloin was perfect right out of the slow cooker, but we were craving a traditional North Carolina barbecue feast, so I whipped up a batch of Lexington-style and Eastern-style sauce to drizzle over our pulled pork.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

These barbecue sauces aren’t what you’re used to buying in the store. They’re both thin and pack more tang than sweetness.

For the Lexington-style sauce, you can add more ketchup to make the sauce slightly thicker and sweeter. My husband actually prefers a higher ketchup-to-vinegar ratio than this recipe calls for. Just experiment, adjusting the vinegar, ketchup and spices, until you achieve the perfect “dip.”

And don’t drench your pork in these sauces. Just drizzle. A little goes a long way.

Eastern-Style North Carolina Barbecue Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes or 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a large mason jar and shake to mix.
  2. To allow the flavors to combine fully, refrigerate for a day or two before serving.
  3. Shake before serving.
  4. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Notes
Adapted from AllRecipes
Lexington-Style North Carolina Barbecue Sauce
 
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar
  • 10 Tablespoons to ½ cup ketchup
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients. Simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a mason jar or squeeze bottle and serve a small amount of sauce over pork and other barbecued meats.
  3. Store in refrigerator.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

In fairness to both sauces, my husband and I sampled both. And we each had a clear favorite.

True to our roots, he liked the Lexington-style sauce the best, and I liked the Eastern style sauce the best.

They were both tasty, but he’s wrong about which is the best!

But you don’t have to take my word for it. You ought to make your own easy slow cooker North Carolina Barbecue feast using Smithfield Marinated Pork, available in seven different flavors. Use this coupon to get 75 cents off one Smithfield Marinated Pork product at Walmart, while supplies last.

While you’re at the store, pick up some hushpuppy mix and a coleslaw kit from the produce section to round out the quick-and-easy meal.

You may also want to serve your North Carolina barbecue with Brunswick stew, like all the best ‘cue joints in the eastern part of the state do. Baked beans are another good side option, especially if you’re feeding a crowd.

Of course, my husband would tell you that hushpuppies, French fries and red slaw are the only proper accompaniments for North Carolina barbecue. Again, he’s wrong, but that’s a North Carolina culinary debate for another day.

If love North Carolina barbecue, do yourself a favor and try this slow-cooker, make-at-home version. You'll find recipes for Eastern style and Lexington style sauce. Make your favorite, or try them both, and decided which you like best.

This dinner proved that a meal doesn’t have to be 100 percent homemade or require hours of prep work to be delicious.

Where do you stand on the North Carolina barbecue debate? Are you with me in my love of Eastern-style barbecue or are you against me? 

 



Comments

  1. So glad you posted this today as I’m going to Asheville this week to visit mt daughter and her hubby who loves the vinegar based sauces. I’ll be making this for him while I’m there. I cook my bar b que in the crock pot every time though I usually use a boston butt cut. Recently I read a post that showed how using your Kitchen Aid Mixer with the paddle attachment would shred your meat perfectly. I have done it several times and am amazed at how well it works. You can control how fine or course you want it shredded. I also have used this to shred cooked chicken, works perfectly every time! I wish I had known this years ago! Afterthought: I think it works best to shred it while the meat is still warm.

    Thanks for the recipe….just in time!

    • Atta Girl Amy
      Twitter:
      says:

      Anna, this makes me so happy that you’re trying the recipe. I’d love to know how it turned out for you and what your son-in-law thought!

      That’s a great tip about the Kitchen Aid mixer. I will definitely have to try that, especially with chicken. I can’t stand shredding chicken for chicken salad or pot pie. Leaner meats, especially, never tend to fall apart as easily as fattier versions.

      I hope your trip to Asheville was wonderful. One of my favorite places to visit, especially this time of year. I hope you got to dine at some of Asheville’s fabulous restaurants. We’re big fans of Tupelo Honey and Salsa’s and the Early Girl Eatery… I could go on and on. It’s definitely a foodie town.

  2. After spending this last week in the South, all I want to do is eat BBQ. Had a delicious brisket sandwich for lunch today — this one’s going on the menu when I get home!
    Cori recently posted..Mason Jar and Felt GnomeMy Profile

  3. Being from Texas, I have to stay with my Texas Style BBQ. It wasn’t until I lived in GA for a few years that I even knew that there was other ways to BBQ. The first time I had pulled pork and the Eastern Style Sauce – I was like “This is BBQ???” but after I tried it – I have to admit it was pretty tasty! Thanks for reminding me of my first time at a North Carolina BBQ when they brought this dish out to me. It was enlightening but tasted pretty good!

  4. This looks so good!

  5. YUM!! This is now on my menu for this week. It looks fantastic!
    Albion recently posted..New Zealand MusingsMy Profile

  6. Hello yumminess! #Getinmybelly! Love it!
    Mrs Major Hoff recently posted..Got stubborn stains? How to remove set in stains. Remove grass stains from whites!My Profile

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