The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

North Carolina-style Pulled Pork

So it seems there’s a lot of interest in the carnitas in a bag that I bought from Costco.  It is really delicious and tender, plus super-easy to prepare – either boil the bag or microwave for a few minutes.  If you’re a member, it’s definitely worth checking out.  Or, if you’re like The Winegetter, find another member to take you there.  The downside is that you may get dragged around town on errands to Home Depot and other places.  But if you don’t have access to Costco and need a pork fix, this recipe is probably just as easy as heating up pre-cooked bag-o-pork.

There are a number of different ways to make pulled pork with the traditional way involving 12-16 hours of smoking it on a grill or smoker.  I’ve seen many recipes that involve using a crockpot or other slow cooker, too.  I don’t own a slow cooker nor do I understand the need for one.  It seems like a marketing gadget aimed at novice cooks – just a step up from the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie OvenBut hey, what do I know.

I really love the North Carolina-style sauce which is vinegar-based and thin.  I always find that the tomato-based sauces from Kansas City or Memphis obscure the flavor of the meat too much.  Same goes with the mustard-based sauce from South Carolina.  And I suppose I’d have the same problem with the Alabama white sauce which is mayonnaise-based.   But I don’t know if I’ll ever find out, because a mayo-based sauce sounds nasty.


North Carolina-style Pulled Pork

This is a really easy method and I make it often.  For this recipe, all you need is an oven and time.  The actual active prep time is only a couple of minutes; the rest of it is unattended cooking time.   The sauce will take you about 2 minutes and can be made at any time during the cooking process.  This will serve about 8-10 people easily and still have leftovers.  Which you’ll gladly take.

In North Carolina, they usually serve these topped with some cole slaw, but I’m not a fan of the stuff.  But if you have some, go for it.

pulled pork pulled



For the pork:

– Huge pork shoulder, whole.  Probably about 4-6 pouhds

– Salt and pepper

1. Salt and pepper the shoulder.  You can get fancy by adding paprika or cumin, but it really won’t need it.

2. Place in roasting pan and cook at 200 degrees for 8 hours.

3. Go cruise the internet for pictures of Lindsey Lohan.  Or Adam Levine.  Whatevs

pulled pork cooked

Lindsay Lohan

4. After 8 hours, take two forks or some tongs and start pulling apart the shoulder, making it as stringy (or not) as you want.

pulled pork pulling  recipe


For the sauce, stir together:

– 2 cups of apple cider vinegar

– ¼ cup of brown sugar

– 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire

– 2 Tablespoons red pepper flakes (I cut in half for the kids)

– Teaspoon of Salt

– Dash of Tabasco

pulled pork saucesauce


I usually mix half the sauce with the pulled pork and serve the rest in a bowl to spoon over individual sandwiches.  You can still mix some of it even in if you’re using other styles of barbecue sauce.  It adds a nice bite.  Or you can skip the mixing part all together and serve it all in a bowl.

pulled pork sandwich

 NOrth Carolina

What kind of barbecue sauce do you like?

 local food


About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

18 comments on “North Carolina-style Pulled Pork

  1. I’m totes making this. To hell with my Jew-y roots.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 6, 2013

      Jewish friend always said, if you’re going to eat pork at least make sure the sauce is all over your face, hands, and dripping from your chin.

  2. wildbluewonder
    June 5, 2013

    I love my slow cooker. It makes great pulled pork!

    Alabama style BBQ is mayo based? Ew. I’m with you there. I like mayo, but that does NOT sound good.

    • wildbluewonder
      June 5, 2013

      As for BBQ that I do like, pretty much any. My faves are Memphis and S. Car., though.

      • thefoodandwinehedonist
        June 6, 2013

        The SoCar style sauce can be good if done right. Only enjoyed it once in the half-dozen times I’ve had it.

        • wildbluewonder
          June 6, 2013

          Have you had Slow’s version? I thought theirs was tasty. But of course this is all very subjective.

  3. Go Jules Go
    June 5, 2013

    Oh, FWH. This looks delish, but yet, I weep. You’re hating on my crock pot, mayo AND cole slaw in one post?!?!?!! (Granted, mayo-based sauce on pulled pork does sound nasty.)

    I’ll get rid of my beloved crock pot if you come cook for me.

  4. armchairsommelier
    June 5, 2013

    I LOVE me some NC vinegar sauce BBQ . . . the more cole slaw on top, the better! And with some hush puppies, please! YUM!

  5. domingosaurus
    June 5, 2013

    I would totally eat that, especially if there is no cole slaw involved. (It has ruined many an otherwise perfect meal.)

  6. Loving the pork recipe and the sauce! Thanks. Also the new look on the site looks great.

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  8. wanderingglutton
    August 20, 2013

    I would bet that if your pork butt was smoked instead of roasted, it would stand up to a tomato-based sauce. Let me know if you are interested and I can provide you a sample of real barbecue, pulled pork with some sauce that I make.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 20, 2013

      I’ve had a bunch in the past to compare to, but I’d never say no to attempts at changing my mind!!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      August 20, 2013

      Next meetup perhaps? (which needs to be scheduled…) Unless you have a batch burning a hole in your pocket or whatever cliche is applicable here..

      • wanderingglutton
        August 20, 2013

        I am always looking for an excuse to fire up my Big Green Egg. I’ll let you know if I can provide you a sample before the next meetup. The complete story with my barbecue is the application of a dry rub (that I make), long cooking time at low temperature (smoking low and slow) and optionally, the application of tomato-based sauce (that I make).

  9. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Episode 8: Piggin’ Out | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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