Of course the barbecue you dream about is the barbecue that you grew up eating.
But if you want to try something different, something — dare we suggest it — from North Carolina, this slow-cooker pulled pork sandwich certainly fits the bill.
This recipe blends eastern and western North Carolina style (eastern is vinegary; western is more saucy). Even though it has none of the chewy charred bits and smokiness, it has all the flavor and none of the guilt and despair. And unlike the genuine pulled pork — which requires that you park a hickory-chip-stoked smoker-grill in your driveway for a long stretch — you can make this version in your sleep! For full effect, it has to be served on a cheap white bun, topped with vinegar coleslaw, and served with hush puppies and oversweetened iced tea. If you want to add something healthy, take a vitamin.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 4 hours, 30 minutes Yield: 12 servings 3 tablespoons canola or corn oil 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 equal pieces 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 1 cup cider vinegar 3 /4 cup ketchup 1 /2 cup dark molasses 1 /3 cup firmly packed brown sugar 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon each: dry mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper 1 /2 teaspoon paprika 12 soft sandwich rolls, toasted
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; brown the pork on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer pork to a slow cooker.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from skillet. Add the onion; cook over medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar; cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits, 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to bubble, 1 minute. Pour over pork.
Cover slow cooker; cook on high until pork is very tender, 4-5 hours. (The pork can be cooked on low 8-10 hours).
Transfer pork to cutting board; shred, discarding fat. Skim excess fat from sauce; return pork to sauce. Stir to combine. Serve on buns with vinegar coleslaw.
Nutrition information per serving: 480 calories, 32 percent of calories from fat, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 38 g protein, 656 mg sodium, 1 g fiber