Ed Mitchell, master cook at The Pit in Raleigh, NC
Meat: All hail the shrine of the sow: Pork is the meat of choice here, but how it’s cooked depends on where you are in the Carolinas. Pulled pork from the whole hog is typically fired up in the eastern part of North Carolina, while western North Carolina sticks to pork shoulder.
Sauce: Consider this area condiment country. Eastern North Carolina uses a peppery vinegar marinade, the west mixes up tomato-based vinegar sauce, while South Carolina slathers on mustard sauce.
Smoke: Hickory chips add smoky flavor.
Insider Tip: “Simplicity is best when it comes to barbecue: Seasoning the meat with just vinegar, red pepper, and a little sugar works fine,” says Mitchell.
Secret Weapon: Hot rubber gloves. Mitchell uses these to protect his hands when he pulls the meat from the pigs, instead of using tools that would tear or damage it.
The Recipe: Pulled Pork Shoulder with Vinegar Sauce and Cold Slaw
How to make it: 1. In a deep dish, place the shoulder with enough vinegar and water to cover (2 parts vinegar to 1 part water), along with the salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 2 to 3 hours).
2. Follow this smoking technique, and cook covered for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until very tender. Allow the meat to rest for about 30 minutes and pull pieces off by hand.
How to make it: Whisk together all the wet ingredients and add the slaw mix. Toss to coat evenly.
Vinegar Sauce 1. Mix together cider vinegar, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and cayenne to taste. Use it to accent the pork’s natural flavors.
2. Serve the pulled pork on a bun or on its own, topped with a dash of vinegar and with coleslaw on the sandwich or on the side.