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The Perks of Pork

Healthy, tasty, cheap — from chops to roasts, this little piggy is surprisingly lean

North Carolina Eastern-Style Chopped or Pulled 'Cue

Adapted from Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas (John Wiley & Sons Inc.)

Serves at least 10

  • One small (1-1/2 to 2-pound) bag hickory wood chips
  • One 10-pound bag charcoal briquettes
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One 9- to 10-pound pork shoulder butt (all skin and fat left on)

1. In a pan of water, soak 6 handfuls of the chips for 45 minutes.

2. Open one bottom and one top vent on a kettle grill, place an aluminum drip pan in the bottom of the grill, stack charcoal briquettes evenly around the pan (not in the center) and ignite the coals. When the coals are ashen (after 30 to 45 minutes), sprinkle 2 handfuls of the soaked chips evenly over the hot coals. Place the grate on the grill about 6 inches over the coals.

3. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the vinegars, sugar, red pepper flakes, Tabasco, salt and pepper and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is well-blended. When the coals are ready on the grill, position the butt fat side up on the grate over indirect heat, mop it with the sauce, close the lid, and cook for 3 hours, mopping the meat every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as they burn up. Turn the butt over, close the lid and cook until the meat is very tender, 2 to 3 hours longer, mopping every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as needed.

4. Transfer the butt to a chopping board, remove and discard excess fat, and either chop the meat and crisp skin coarsely or pull into shreds. Transfer the meat to a roasting pan, drizzle about 1 cup of the sauce over the top, toss well, cover with foil and keep warm.

5. To serve, mound the barbecue on plates or hamburger buns and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Next: Thai-style pork with veggies. »

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