A visit to Goldsboro, North Carolina, finished up Williams-Sonoma’s Fire Smoke & Flavor tour, where the crew experienced whole hog smoking and sugary-sweet iced tea at its finest. Here’s what makes North Carolina barbecue different from all the rest.
1. Hog Wild
North Carolina barbecue traditionally uses the whole hog, which pit masters smoke slowly over hickory and oak chips. They chop meat from three parts of the pig: the ham, well-marbled shoulder and ribs.
2. Signature Sandwich
The delicious, smoky chopped hog meat is doused with a thin, spicy vinegar-based sauce spiked with cayenne pepper. The pork is typically served on a soft bun with a plain slaw—white cabbage dressed simply with a sauce that may or may not include mayonnaise.
North Carolina is famous for its sweet iced tea, which is sweetened while still hot for super saturation.
Another dish specific to North Carolina is Brunswick stew, which originated as a wild game stew (Native Americans made it with squirrel, European settlers with domestic meat). Today the stew usually contains chicken and pork, along with tomatoes, potatoes, butter beans and corn. Although there is a Brunswick County in North Carolina, it’s believed the name is derived from either Brunswick County, Virginia, or Brunswick, Georgia, which also have versions of the stew.
Hush puppies—crunchy balls of deep-fried cornmeal—are often found on the side of a pork sandwich. According to legend, they used to be thrown to barking puppies to make them “hush.”
5. Sauce Secrets
Vinegar-based sauce rules in North Carolina, thanks to the old plantation practice of pickling to preserve crops. Also, it’s perfect for cutting the fat of the pork.