To many Americans, barbecue sauce is red, sweet, and smoky—end of story. But there’s a whole barbecue culture out there that knows that is just the tip of the barbecue iceberg. Sauces vary by region, and this one is from the eastern reaches of North Carolina. It’s a vinegar-based sauce, nicely acidic and seasoned with red flecks of ancho and cayenne chile powders. Those North Carolinians are up to something; I just love how the tangy sauce complements smoky pulled pork.–Bobby Flay
LC Not By Barbecue Sauce Alone Note
Just to reiterate what’s said above, we want to be clear about one sorta crucial thing: this isn’t your typical gloppy barbecue sauce to squirt onto burgers or dogs. Thinner and tangier than most barbecue sauces, it’s designed to be used as a mop—that is to say, something that you use to baste a rich, unctuous, fatty fat fat shoulder cut of pork that’s left to sloooooowly cook on a grill or in a smoker until it’s imbued with flavor and coaxed into falling-apart submissiveness. It’s also what you dribble over the pulled or chopped pork after it’s heaped on a sturdy bun. That’s not to say it doesn’t also work terrifically on grilled chicken and burgers and so forth. It’s just an explanation so that you can adjust your expectations accordingly.
North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 30 M
- Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chile de arbol powder or cayenne pepper
- 1. Combine the vinegar, ketchup, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and chile de arbol powder or cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (The sauce is best when you cover and refrigerate it overnight to allow the flavors to meld. You can, of course, stash it in the fridge for up to a week or so. Bring to room temperature before using.)
- 2. Rely on the sauce both for mopping pork butt, chicken, or burgers on the grill and for slathering over just about any grilled item just before serving—just be mindful to keep your mopping sauce separate from your slathering sauce, lest you contaminate the latter with cooties from raw meat from the former.
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North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe © 2013 Bobby Flay. Photo © 2013 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.
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