BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Carolina Vinegar Sauce

A close up of a barbeque pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and potato salad.

A Taste of Wild - Blue Ridge Mountains

Jon and Aubrey return back east to visit Jon's family in North Carolina, cooking up all of his favorite Southern-inspired meals from his time growing up in the South.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Carolina Vinegar Sauce

Now I’m no pit master, but growing up in the South has ingrained in me a deep appreciation for “slow food.” You see, down here, we’re in no hurry.

On a breezy September afternoon, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the sun-painted valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains tending to the campfire under a Dutch oven full of pork.

From North Carolina to South Carolina, Alabama to Texas, Kentucky to Kansas, everyone has an opinion on which barbeque sauce is best. One thing we can all agree on is that barbeque is the delicious product of a day spent outdoors, cooking over the grill, or in this case, the campfire. 

In Texas, they love a savory “mop sauce,” a thinner glaze that adds flavor in layers as it’s literally mopped onto meat as it cooks. Kansas City-style sauce is thicker, sweeter and guaranteed to please every kind of barbeque lover, from young to old. In Alabama, they’ve created a novel white sauce with mayonnaise, vinegar and pepper, which is typically served with barbequed chicken. And in Kentucky, they’ve created a thick and dark Worcestershire-forward sauce that makes an incredible accompaniment to mutton.  

In North Carolina, we have two main styles of barbeque sauce: in the eastern part of the state, a vinegar-based sauce reigns as king. In the western part of the state, they like to add tomatoes to the mix, typically in the form of ketchup.

There’s no reason to play favorites with barbeque sauce. Although it can be fun to argue with friends about which sauce is superior, it’s better if you don’t take it too seriously. After all, the privilege of getting to choose a favorite only exists because there are so many styles for us all to try. 

In the pulled pork sandwiches below, I’ve used a West Carolina-style sauce. That’s what I was raised on and it’s both easy and tasty enough to impress anybody who might stop by for a visit. Cooked over hot campfire coals, it’s the kind of meal you can cook from a comfortable camp chair with a beer in one hand, only getting up every so often to switch out the coals on the lid for warm ones. Minimum effort for maximum flavor. I hope you love it as much as I do. 

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Carolina Vinegar Sauce

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Carolina Vinegar Sauce

Yield: 6 sandwiches
Prep: 15 minutes Cooking: 2.5 hours

Pulled pork ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. pork butt, cut into four pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 medium orange, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Vinegar sauce ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • Salt

Assembly:

  • Hamburger buns
  • Coleslaw

Cooking Tools

  • Dutch oven
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Small bowl
  • Whisk

Method

  1. Light a campfire and let it burn down until it’s mostly hot coals. 
  2. Arrange pork pieces in a large Dutch oven. Combine the mustard powder, paprika, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, garlic powder and salt, and add to the Dutch oven, covering the pork pieces. Cover with the lid. 
  3. Place the Dutch oven over hot campfire coals, adding 6-8 coals to the lid to help cook evenly. Cook for 2 and a half hours, rotating the cold coals for fresh hot ones every 20 minutes. 
  4. While the meat is cooking, make your vinegar sauce by combining the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper and chili flakes. 
  5. When the pork is ready, remove the meat from the Dutch oven and place into a bowl. Shred the meat using two forks, and toss the pork pieces with the vinegar sauce.
  6. For assembly, toast buns, and slap on the coleslaw and top with pulled pork.  

Jon and Aubrey made their latest trip in a Thor Motor Coach Class B.

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