Each of the various BBQ regions in the US have their own “claim to fame” and each has a distinctive flavor style - Kansas City is known for using beef sweet and web treatments where Memphis for its use of dry rubs and pork. The third are of the country where there is a distinctive BBQ flavor is in North Carolina. Now I didn’t say “the Carolinas” but specifically the North Carolina area.
North Carolina BBQ is a careful blending of vinegar and spices for a tart and tangy flavor. Now there are some subtle differences between western and eastern North Carolina BBQ but to most the differences are very slight. Eastern BBQ is whole hog while western, or “Lexington-style”, is pork shoulder. The vinegar based “sauce” isn’t really a sauce as much as it is a moistening agent. Western BBQ also uses vinegar as the sauce base but uses ketchup and a dash of sugar in it as well.
So the bottom line difference between the two is that Eastern North Carolina BBQ is going to live and die by the seasoning while Western North Carolina BBQ can hide some of its flavor in the sauce.
North Carolina BBQ is cooked very slowly and is most frequently served on a sandwich bun with a side of cole slaw. The cole slaw acts as the cool balance to the slight peppery flavor of the spices used. You can’t have an authentic North Carolina BBQ without a big glass of ice tea.
Ingredients: Brown sugar, Ancho chili powder, Hungarian paprika, black pepper, coarse sea salt, cumin, cloves and cayenne