*  Exported from  MasterCook Mac  *
 
             Bubba Tom’s Eastern North Carolina Style Barbeque
 
 Recipe By     : Tom Solomon
 Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
 Categories    : main
 
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
 --------  ------------  --------------------------------
                         Boston Butts & Picnic Shoulders      -- smoked
    4      tablespoons   Cayenne Pepper Flakes
    8      bulbs         garlic
                         -----PAN SAUCE-----
   12      ounces        Apple Cider Vinegar
    2      tablespoons   Cayenne Pepper Flakes
                         ---------------------
                         salt
                         water
 
 “INFUSION” TECHNIQUE FOR HOMEMADE EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA STYLE BARBEQUE
 
 Tom “Big Heat” Solomon
 bigheat@earthlink.net
 
 
 I: INTRODUCTION:
 
 Eastern North Carolina style barbeque is, by most accounts, the oldest
 style of barbeque in the United States. Originating during Colonial times
 in the coastal regions of Virginia and the Carolinas, it endures and
 thrives today in the eastern third of the state of North Carolina.
 According to Vince Staten and Greg Johnson, this style of barbeque
 “originated in those days when people thought tomatoes were poisonous and
 refused to eat them. When the early settlers wanted a seasoning for their
 barbequed pig, they chose English ketchup, a vinegar seasoned with oysters
 and peppers and other spices, but containing no tomato.”
 
 Staten and Johnson observe that “[today] Down East they cook the whole hog,
 with no baste, over hickory coals, then 'pick' the meat off the bone, chop
 it into fine hunks, and coat it with a thin, hot vinegar-based sauce.”
 Since cooking a whole hog is not a valid option for most home barbequers, I
 have come up with a three-step “infusion” technique that yields a
 reasonable facsimile of Eastern North Carolina style barbeque.
 
 II: EQUIPMENT:
 
 The recommended smoker for making homemade Eastern North Carolina style
 barbeque is a horizontal wood-fueled smoker with an offset firebox, such as
 the Brinkmann Smoke 'N Pit Professional, or similar style smokers made by
 companies such as Oklahoma Joe, BBQ Pits By Klose, etc. I have had some
 success using the small, vertical, $30 dollar “water smokers” as well;
 however, it is an onerous process and does not, as a rule, produce the
 deep, rich, smoky results that off-set smokers yield. I have no experience
 with gas smokers, but many people have reported good results using gas and
 wood chips and/or wood pellets. If you have a gas smoker rather than a wood
 unit, I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to make a perfectly
 acceptable version of Eastern North Carolina style barbeque. After all, the
 key is “heat, smoke, and time,” with smoke I think being the most important
 element. While using gas will not make your barbeque “authentic” or
 “traditional”, you are not cooking a whole hog, either, so by all means use
 what you have.
 
 III: WOOD:
 
 This technique assumes you will be using wood for both heat and smoke.
 Those using wood only for smoke can make the necessary adjustments.
 
 As noted, hickory is the traditional wood of choice for Eastern North
 Carolina style barbeque. However, oak is also commonly used, and both are
 good, strong, full-bodied woods. From my experience, the ideal mixture is
 40 percent hickory, 40 percent oak, and 20 percent apple wood--apple
 imparts a distinct, slightly sweet essence that nicely balances the
 slightly bitter, high harshness of hickory and the deep, mellow baritones
 of oak.
 
 Different schools of thought exist regarding in what state (pre-burned
 coals, split logs, or whole logs) the wood should be added to the burn
 chamber, and what color the smoke produced by the burning should be--a
 barely perceptable blue, or a clean white smoke. Nearly everyone agrees
 that the wood should be well-seasoned, as green wood tends to produce a
 bitter creosote that can ruin barbeque.
 
 In my experience, the bitterness sometimes produced by a white smoke is
 mitigated by the use of the infusion technique. What I do is start a fire
 in the burn chamber using plain old charcoal, let the charcoal burn down to
 glowing embers, and then add split wood logs, using a ratio of two dry logs
 to one wet (pre-soaked) log. These are not hard and fast rules, however--I
 would encourage you to experiment with pre-burned wood coals, whole logs,
 all dry logs, whatever you feel would work best for your own taste buds and
 expertise. The only word of caution I would add is that if, instead of
 using the infusion technique you will be pulling the pork and adding a
 table sauce (i.e. having a “pig pickin'”), you would be well advised to use
 pre-burned coals rather than split and/or whole logs in the burn chamber.
 
 IV: MEAT:
 
 In a word, pork. Period. No exceptions.
 
 How much barbeque you want to make is up to you. The ideal cut would be
 what Dave Lineback calls a “barbeque cut”, which is a whole shoulder (a
 picnic, commonly refered to in grocery stores as a pork shoulder) and
 Boston Butt joined together. If you have access to a friendly butcher, by
 all means use that cut. If, like me, you do *not* have access to a custom
 butcher, use a ratio of two Boston Butts to every one pork picnic shoulder.
 Most retail grocery store butchers will be happy to “special order” a whole
 shoulder for you; likewise, they will also be more than happy to charge you
 the price of the more expensive cut (typically the Boston Butt) for the
 whole thing when it arrives. Picnics, at least here in Virginia, are often
 significantly cheaper per pound than Boston Butts, so for me at least it
 makes more sense to just buy them the way the retail grocers package them.
 Hey, it’s all going to be mixed together in the end anyway...
 
 V: THE INFUSION PROCEDURE:
 
 STEP ONE: Bring the meat up to room temperature. Get your smoker started,
 and when you have a good base of coals in the burn chamber put the pork in
 the cooking chamber--fat side down for the first hour, fat side up for the
 rest of the smoking process. Maintain a steady smoke and a temperature
 between 220 and 260 degrees at the *surface* of the meat. Ideally, stay as
 close to 220 degrees as you can. Have about 8 whole bulbs of garlic
 soaking; every couple of hours toss a couple of the bulbs into the burn
 chamber [trust me :-)]. Smoke the meat (no baste, no mop, no rub) for a
 *minimum* of 8 hours (this would be if you were using a vertical water
 smoker, since 8 hours is about the outside limit of what you can get from
 those units in a single session). Ideally, you should smoke the meat for
 between 10 to 12 hours. Beyond that, I have found you begin to run into
 diminishing return in regards to smoke penetration of the meat.
 
 STEP TWO: Transfer the meat to a large, covered Dutch Oven. Put a little
 bit of water and apple cider vinegar into the bottom of the oven so that
 the pork does not dry out. You can leave the oven in the smoker, or bring
 it inside and put it in your range oven. Bake the pork at 275 degrees for
 an additional 2 hours or so, until the internal temperature of the pork at
 it’s thickest point reaches 160 degrees. The pork should be separating from
 the bone at this point.
 
 STEP THREE: Let the pork cool until you can handle it without burning your
 fingers. Pull the pork into thumb sized chunks, discarding as much fat and
 gristle as you can. In a large cast iron skillet, pack about two or three
 pounds of pulled pork. Make a finishing sauce of 16 ounces good quality
 apple cider vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons cayenne pepper flakes (this is a
 rather fundamentalist finishing sauce--by all means feel free to experiment
 with other variations of Eastern North Carolina sauces if you desire
 something a bit more elaborate). Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt into 2-3
 cups hot tap water and pour this over the pulled pork. Add 8 ounces of
 finishing sauce, turn the heat to medium, and cook the liquid down by about
 a third. Add another 4 ounces of finishing sauce, and cook the liquid down
 some more, stirring frequently with a spatula so that Mr. Brown and Miss.
 White each spend some good quality time together in the sauce. When the
 liquid is cooked down to the point that it *just* oozes over the spatula
 when you press down on the pork, remove from heat, and serve your homemade
 Eastern North Carolina style barbeque.
 
 VI: CLOSING THOUGHTS:
 
 While this procedure is for Eastern North Carolina style barbeque, I see no
 reason why it couldn't be adapted to other regional styles of barbeque.
 Experiment, make improvements, and above all have fun with it. I hope it
 works as well for you as it has for me.
 
 Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
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 Suggested Wine: Dixie Beer
 Serving Ideas : French Fries, Hush Puppies, Coleslaw, Camp Beans