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North Carolina Chopped Barbecue

  • 2 pork picnic shoulder roasts, 6 pounds each, bone in, rind removed
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 cups cider vinegar

Serves 12-15. MOPPING SAUCE The 12 garlic cloves that cooked with the pork 1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt 1/4 cup reserved pork-simmering liquid 3/4 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon cayenne 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3.5 cups cider vinegar MIXING SAUCE 1.5 cups reserved Mopping Sauce 1/4 cup reserved pork-simmering liquid 1/3 cup smoky-flavored barbecue sauce (not too sweet) Salt Hot-pepper sauce, for seasoning at table Place the roasts, the garlic, and the 3 cups of vinegar in a very large deep stockpot or flameproof casserole. (If necessary, divide the roasts, garlic, and vinegar evenly between 2 smaller pots.) Add water to cover by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 2.5 hours, adding boiling water as needed to keep the meat covered. Removed the roasts from the pot, reserving the cooked garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of the pork-simmering liquid. Place the roasts on a rack in a large roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, prepare the Mopping Sauce. In a large bowl, mash the cooked garlic to a paste with the salt. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pork-simmering liquid, the sugar, cayenne, pepper and 3.5 cups of vinegar and mix well. Remove 1.5 cups of the Mopping Sauce and set it aside to be used later in the Mixing Sauce. Use the remaining Mopping Sauce to baste the pork as it roasts. With a clean new dishmop or paintbrush, baste the roasts with Mopping Sauce and place them in the 350 degree oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cook for 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes and turning once or twice. Use all of the Mopping Sauce (but none of the reserved Mopping Sauce). Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a large chopping board. Spoon or pour all fat out of the roasting pan and set the pan aside. Do not wash it. The pork roasts should be a little crusty on the outside and very tender and moist inside. Discard the bones and remove any fat. With a heavy large knife, chop/shred the lean pork fairly fine. Transfer to a large bowl and cover loosely to keep warm and moist. Proceed immediately to make the Mixing Sauce. Place the empty, unwashed roasting pan over very low heat and add 1/2 cup of the reserved Mopping Sauce. Scrape the pan to loosen caramelized juices and browned bits, stirring quickly and constantly so none of the flavorful liquid evaporates. Pour every last drop of this "essence of barbecue" back into the remaining reserved Mopping Sauce. Add the 1/4 cup of reserved pork-simmering liquid. Stir in the smoky-flavored barbecue sauce and season with salt to taste. This Mixing Sauce will mellow considerably as the barbecue "ripens." Add half the Mixing Sauce to the chopped pork and mix well. Gradually blend in the remaining Mixing Sauce. Let cool, cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours to let the flavor develop. (Chopped barbecue can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.) Let return to room temperature before reheating, covered, in a microwave oven or 300 degree conventional oven. Adust the seasonings as necessary and serve hot. Cole slaw is traditional with chopped barbecue, and hot-pepper sauce is a must.

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