Friday, July 24, 2009

From Carolina To France

After 20 years of living in the South, just about the only native thing I haven’t grown to love is NASCAR.

Southern cooking, in particular, has earned a special place in my heart. So, it’s natural that at some point I had to start making my own barbecue (being a resident of the Carolinas, that means pulled pork).

Wednesday night after work, I fired up my ancient Weber grill and thoroughly seared a Boston butt pork roast. I wrote about using a slow cooker to finish the pork in this post. It's worth mentioning that if you partially cook it on the grill like I do (an hour or more), you won't need to drain off any liquid during cooking. Just drop the butt in your slow cooker with a beer and give it 18-24 hours on low or about eight hours on high.

The other thing I’ve been doing different lately is experimenting with spice rubs prior to searing. A mix of cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper and salt adds to the depth of flavor in the finished product.

Last night, it was time to enjoy it. I chopped up a batch of coleslaw (my philosophy on coleslaw is in this post) and made a simple salad of fresh tomatoes, julienne basil, and some crumbled Gorgonzola drizzled with really good olive oil and four-leaf Aceto Balsamico de Modena.

(Local note: The Gourmet Shop sells California-certified Arbequina extra virgin olive oil by West Coast Products. It's by far the best olive oil I have ever tasted.)

I spent my formative Southern years in Greenville, North Carolina, which means my reference point for barbecue is vinegar-based sauces. I’m proud to say I’ve had many a barbecue sandwich at B’s Barbecue. While I can’t match what they do, I’ve gotten pretty good at putting together my own sauce and creating my own version of barbecue sandwiches. The end result is pictured below.

The brown sugar in my sauce recipe (see below) is not quite traditional, depending on who you ask, of course. Barbecue sauce recipes are closely guarded. This is really just a guide. I always add one or two more ingredients in the spirit of adventure. However, this recipe works just fine as is.

Barbecue sandwiches can be a little tricky when it comes to wine pairing. You could, of course, enjoy them with beer (or sweet tea), but I just happened to have the perfect wine.

La Ferme Julien Rosé Côtes du Ventoux 2007

I’ve had La Ferme Julien Rouge in the past, and it’s a reliably good, easy-drinking French red. The rosé is also very nice and (better still) only $5.99 at Trader Joe’s. It was crisp and pleasantly fruity, reminiscent of strawberries, cherries and peach, framed with appropriate acidity. A cool glass of French rosé and a barbecue sandwich -- it's probably as close to heaven as I'll ever get.

Cheers, y’all.

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

3 cups cider vinegar
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, red pepper, brown sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. You might want to do this in a well-ventilated kitchen or outside on the grill. If that's not possible, you'll at least have very clear sinuses.

Let sauce cool down a little and then add black pepper. Serve with pulled pork.


Anonymous said...

I can’t help but laugh at the moment by your comments… I don’t mean to poke fun at Nascar fans, but I have a hard time finding fun in watching cars circle almost endlessly and I live in a state that boast very little of anything. Of course as I write this, I just grilled myself up a nice phatty burger messaged with a spicy and smoky rub, just cooked enough that the cow quit complaining. I’m washing it down with an impulse clearance purchase of a Washington state merlot by Pine and Post. And if that isn’t enough sensory overload I’m enjoying reruns of American gladiators. Sorry Jeff Gordon.

John said...

American Gladiators reruns versus NASCAR? No contest. I'd rather watch golf than endless left turns.

Rare burgers and clearance merlot? Now that's more my speed.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I know the american Gladiators can seem cheesey...ok it is, but so is the original star trek, but who can't deny a good smile from blinking big lights, rubber suit aliens, drunk engineer, and a capt. that gets some.