Elizabeth Karmel's North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Serves: 10
Total Calories: 115


FOR THE RUB (optional see Note):
1 tablespoon paprika, mild
2 teaspoons light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, hot
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pork shoulder blade roast, (Boston butt 5 to 6 pounds), covered with a layer (1/2 to 1 inch thick) of fat
vinegar sauce (see recipe)
10 to 12 hamburger buns
North Carolina-Style Coleslaw


1. If using the rub, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with your fingers to mix. Wearing rubber or plastic gloves if desired, rub this mixture into the pork shoulder on all sides, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but preferably 8.

2. Set the grill up for indirect grilling, placing a drip pan in the center.

If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high when smoke appears, lower the heat to medium-low.

If using a charcoal grill, preheat to medium-low and adjust the vents to obtain a temperature of 325°F.

3. When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss 1 cup wood chips on the coals. Place the pork shoulder, fat side up, on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke-cook the pork shoulder until fall-off-the-bone tender and the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer reaches 195°F, 4 to 6 hours. (The cooking time will depend on the size of the piece of meat and heat of the grill.) If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side every hour, and toss more wood chips on the fresh coals, adding about 1 cup chips (1/2 cup per side) every time you replenish the coals. With gas, all you need to do is be sure that you start with a full tank of gas.

4. Transfer the cooked pork roast to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. After the resting period, wearing heavy-duty rubber gloves if desired, pull off and discard any skin from the meat, then pull the pork into pieces, discarding any bones or fat. Using your fingertips or a fork, pull each piece of pork into shreds 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. This requires time and patience, but a human touch is needed to achieve the perfect texture. If patience isn’t one of your virtues, you can finely chop the pork with a cleaver. (Many respected North Carolina barbecue joints serve chopped ’cue.) Transfer the shredded pork to a nonreactive roasting pan. Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the vinegar sauce, enough to keep the pork moist, then cover the pan with foil and place on the grill for up to 30 minutes to keep warm.

5. To serve, mound the pulled pork on the hamburger buns, and top with coleslaw. Let each person add vinegar sauce to taste.

Serves 10 to 12

Note: If not using the rub, generously season the pork all over with coarse (kosher or sea) salt and freshly ground black pepper you can start cooking immediately.

Vinegar Sauce

This peppery, piquant vinegar sauce is the preferred condiment of eastern North Carolina. In the western part of the state, the sauce becomes more tomatoey, while in southern parts of the Carolinas, mustard sauce reigns supreme.

2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, or more to taste
5 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
4 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black
1 teaspoon freshly ground white

Combine the vinegar, water, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, hot pepper flakes, and peppers in a nonreactive medium-size bowl and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste for seasoning, adding sugar or salt as necessary the sauce should be piquant but not quite sour.

Makes about 4 cups

Nutritional Facts:

Serves: 10
Total Calories: 115
Calories from Fat: 20

This Elizabeth Karmel's North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork recipe is from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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