Flipping through the pages of the September issue of Food & Wine, I came across a Carolina pulled pork recipe by Sean Brock. Many of you will have heard of Brock, chef at McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina, and winner of the 2010 James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast.
The magazine calls Brock a “Carolina barbecue scholar” and tells of the 20-page paper he wrote on its origins while at Johnson & Wales. As soon as I saw the recipe, I knew D would be happy trying it. I’ve probably mentioned it before; he’s from North Carolina and occasionally gets a craving for Carolina barbecue that is rarely satisfied in Miami. If the recipe worked, I thought, we could make our own Carolina-style pork and avoid the disappointing restaurant versions we’ve tasted here.
The recipe is a little time intensive but straightforward and really not that much work when you consider how good the end result is. I started making it on a Friday close to midnight. I rubbed the pork shoulder with the mixture of Dijon mustard, dark brown sugar, paprika, onion powder and pepper, put it in the oven and put myself in bed. The smell of the slow-cooking pork woke me up a couple of times during the night, and when I woke up at about 8 a.m. I was ready to eat that pig for breakfast – except it still had to cook for four more hours.
After 12 hours the pork was ready to be smoked. D was in charge of this part since I’m not very good with the charcoal grill. Though if I had to do it myself, Brock’s recipe has detailed instructions on how to light the coals, when to add the wood chips and all that. The pork is smoked for an hour and then set to rest for 30 minutes before it’s shredded. We left the shredding for closer to our guests’ arrival and moved on to making the sauce.
Brock, acknowledging that each sauce has its “fanatical” supporters, includes recipes for three: the vinegar-based East Carolina sauce, a Western Carolina variation (adds ketchup) and a South Carolina version (adds mustard). D chose the Western style, which he loves because of his time working at Woodlands Barbecue in Blowing Rock, right outside of Boone where he went to college.
Accompanying our pulled pork were Martin potato rolls, cole slaw, smoked corn and the Pioneer Woman’s baked beans, which were pretty amazing. I even made sweet tea. And in what seemed like the blink of an eye, everything, every little last drop, all that work, was gone. Naturally, D’s only complaint was that I didn’t make enough.