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*Updated. Originally posted January 22, 2014

The BBQ Battle: East vs. West Memorial Day Challenge

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When it comes to BBQ, most of us usually think pulled pork, on a bun, with a side of coleslaw and served at an outdoor event. And for the most part, BBQ is just that. However, the BBQ battle continues to boil between the East and the West, the competition stemming mostly from the sauces used when making BBQ. And, both regions pour the loyalty on thick. Western BBQ is tomato based with definite tang, while eastern BBQ has a vinegar base with cayenne pepper to give it a nice kick. This Memorial Day, please them all and take your own mini-poll. May the best BBQ win….

Eastern Carolina BBQ

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon ground dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix cider vinegar, molasses, dry mustard, butter, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Mix 4 teaspoons cornstarch with 4 teaspoons cold water and slowly add to the sauce; simmer 1 minute. The sauce will thicken a little but will remain mostly thin as this is the type of sauce it supposed to be (it will also thicken a bit more when it cools). If you think the cornstarch became clumped in any way within the sauce, strain before pouring into a squeezable bottle. Serve over pulled pork.

Western Carolina BBQ

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 40-ounce bottle of ketchup
  • 2 1/2 cups water to rinse the inside of the ketchup bottle
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of natural smoke drippings or liquid smoke to taste

In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the ketchup; rinse the bottle with the water and add to the pot.  Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugars, molasses, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 3-3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Using a hand held immersion blender, food processor, or blender, purée the sauce in batches.  Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain the sauce, pressing on the solids with the back of a ladle.  Add the smoke flavorings to taste.

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