Monday, August 23, 2010

North Carolina BBQ Sauce: Eastern or Western?

During my recent trip to North Carolina, I ended up learning not only about fried green tomatoes and sweet teas but also about the culinary differences between the Eastern and the Western parts of the State. I am not talking politics or regional issues - it's all about their rather unique taste in BBQ Sauce.

So, the Eastern is the spicy sauce that is made from vinegar, crushed hot peppers and salt. On the other hand, the Western BBQ sauce is sweet and is made from vinegar with the help of tomato sauce and sugar. They both dress amazingly the mouthwatering chopped barbecue in an elegant rather way - the Eastern makes it "spicy" and the Western soft and sugary but excellent in the mouth. For the curious, I offer both recipes below (found on the web after some decent research). So, pick the one you like more and go for it!

THE WEST goes first:

• 4 cups cider vinegar
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 1/3 cups ketchup
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons mustard powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


1. Place the vinegar, sugar, ketchup, butter, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, mustard powder, salt, and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover, and refrigerate the sauce for 2 days.

2. Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove the red pepper flakes. Store the sauce in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
The EAST follows:

• 2 quarts cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup salt
• 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
• 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

In a large bowl, mix together cider vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce. Stir until salt and brown sugar have dissolved. Cover, and let stand at least 3 hours before using as a basting sauce or serving on meat.