Gastronaut Files: Pulled Pork
At McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina, Sean Brock is known for intricate dishes like peekytoe crab with saffron, apple and wood sorrel. But the chef, who will open an all-Southern restaurant called Sazerac this fall, has an abiding love for Carolina barbecue. He even wrote a 20-page paper on its origins as a culinary student at Johnson & Wales University. "And that is a big darn paper for a chef to write," he says.
Carolina barbecue, Brock explains, traces its roots to the 16th century, when the first Spanish settlers brought pigs to the region and observed Native Americans slow-cooking whole animals on spits. "If you're eating Carolina barbecue, you know you're eating pork," Brock says.
That pork traditionally comes off a whole hog turned slowly over coals. "I like the lore of the whole pig," Brock says, "but for fat-to-meat ratio and flavor, there is no better cut than the shoulder." The smaller cut is also easier to cook: Whereas pit masters tend their fires for days, Brock leaves the shoulder in a 275° oven overnight, then smokes it for an hour in his backyard grill. Turn the page for this simplified method for pulled pork, and three classic Carolina sauces.
Three Essential Carolina Barbecue Sauces
Carolina pulled pork comes with one of three distinct sauces, each from a different region. Each has its fanatical, occasionally militant supporters, but Brock has nice things to say about them all (and easy recipes, too).