Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Revisiting The Barbecue Wars: Texas, will it hold up?

This is a post from a ways back but I was thinking about barbecue since I am on a plane headed to RWA in, gulp, Texas. They do barbecue in a BIG way. ManO even told me he's abstaining from NC barbecue because he knows he's going to indulge in all things Texan especially BBQ while he is there. So what about YOUR region's barbecue? Do you have any restaurants in town that do it a "foreign" way? We have one that does Texan barbecue. We will see how the real thing lives up.     

When I moved to North Carolina a few decades ago,  Man O took me to a company picnic.  When it was time to eat, we went up to a huge horizontal black oil drum. Hmm, I figured out it was the catering company’s grill. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, bratwurst floated through my mind. With a lot of hooting and hollering, the lid was opened and I jumped…BACK. 

There was half a pig, including hooves, grilling. The catering guy pulled out two huge knives and started hacking at it, not slicing it, but creating something called “barbecue.” No way!  Up in my neck of suburban DC, barbecue is what others call sloppy joes. Not this whack attack on Porky the Pig.  But I had one taste and was in heaven. Then I discovered North Carolina’s not so secret civil war.

When you get married, you find it is a series of compromises.  Colgate versus Crest. Jif versus Peter Pan. Coke vs Pepsi. We navigated those with ease compared to what we were facing now: Man O’s preference for Western North Carolina barbecue versus my affinity for Eastern.  I kept having to remind myself that Man O and I were both raised with relatives who went to Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, we both loved chili on our hot dogs, and this would not tear us apart like it did so many other North Carolina couples. 

Here is a  quick education in  the East vs West, very emotional, knock-down drag-out debate:
Eastern NC barbecue, dating back from colonial times, involves the whole pig, pit smoked and chopped. Its sauce is simple: Vinegar, red pepper, black pepper and salt! Western NC barbecue is a youngster, dating from the 20th century. Smoked pork shoulders are chopped but doused in ketchup based sauce. Man O is a Western die hard while I am an Eastern total fan. Now, I must admit it is harder for me to eat Western barbecue because the ingredients in the sauce are a mystery. If there is High Fructose Corn Syrup in the base, I am done for. But I just like Eastern better.

Recently Man O had been in South Africa for a while and I wanted to fix him a local meal for his return. 

What do Man O and this lion cub have in common? They both like meat!!! And they are really cute.

I missed him so much I made him Western Style barbecue, the quick way. I don’t have a smoker or a grill so this is how I did it:

Easy Oven Pork Barbecue:

Western Sauce: Puree one small sweet onion in a food processor. Add one teaspoon Penzey’s Barbecue of America [Click for more information on Penzeys Spices, the best spice company IMHO] spice mix, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon brown mustard, one cup or so of organic ketchup and one half cup water.  

Place one package (2-3lbs) pork tenderloin in a small roasting pan. Pour sauce over pork and seal tightly with aluminum foil.  Roast at 250 degrees for 3 and ½ hours, until you can “pull” the pork apart with two folks.  Mix meat into the juices.

See the two forks? Use them!
Serve with a slotted spoon to let juices run out and serve on the side with slaw or on buns. 

PS: When I am not as obliging, I make the Eastern style.  Quick Eastern Sauce: 1 Cup Apple Cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon each red pepper, black pepper, salt and sugar. Follow the same directions or just use a half cup water in with the loin and drizzle on sauce afterwards.  

Man O was happy and I was happy to have him home. So, at least in our house, barbecue peace reigns.


  1. hmm that eastern style might not be so bad with a bottle of stubby's poured over it afterwards! :-) actually it doesn't even sound like bbq should be in the name but I might like it if I tried it - but still probably wouldn't call it bbq! but then a guy at work once told me that he didn't use any sauce on his - it was bbq because he tossed it on the grill. I think my sweet tooth has been developed since the womb

    1. I have heard that people call anything barbeque if it is on the grill. The regional differences boggle the mind.

    2. I thnk it'd be a huge taste difference- I grew up with Kraft which is basically high fructose corn syrup with a little flavoring called 'barbecue'. I was also surprised ot read that Texas is the only bbq with beef - a friend said her father in law couldnt' get over bbq'ing beef instead of pork - though we have pork too...and sausage and chicken...grill it all!

  2. Yay! There's no need to fight! All of the que is good!

  3. Delicious recipe!!!!!