I wanted some Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar barbecue sauce for the pulled pork, but I figured I couldn’t buy it in Maryland. Then, when I started looking for a recipe, I realized it is super easy to make — as is what I would call “normal” barbecue sauce. I ended up making three kinds: Eastern North Carolina, Memphis and South Carolina. (***Update: I didn’t post the South Carolina sauce recipe because I didn’t think it was very good. I also had to add a zillion times more sugar than the recipe called for, and I didn’t measure it all. Sorry!***)
The Memphis-style was my favorite. It does have to simmer for a while, but it only requires about 5 minutes of effort.
Of course, I also liked the Eastern North Carolina-style, and it is even easier to make.
You may want to add a little extra sugar to this, but it isn’t supposed to be sweet. You want it pretty tangy — keep in mind it won’t seem as tangy once you put it on the pork.
Be sure to open a window and/or turn on your oven vent when you’re simmering it or your house will smell like vinegar for longer than you’d like. You can find these little squeeze bottles at Michael’s.
Memphis-style barbecue sauce (Adapted from the Neelys)
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tsp paprika
Additional sugar to taste*
Combine everything in a large pot and bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce temperature to very low and simmer uncovered for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then use. Sauce keeps in tightly sealed container for up to 2 months in refrigerator.
The original recipe calls for a tablespoon of Neely’s BBQ seasoning instead of the last two ingredients listed here. I didn’t feel like making a huge batch of it because I knew I wasn’t going to use it, but feel free to use that instead.
Eastern North Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce (adapted from various recipes at Epicurious.com)
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar (plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Dash of salt and pepper
Turn vent on or open window. Bring ingredients to a boil in a medium non-reactive saucepan (not copper or cast-iron), stirring until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool slightly and taste. Add more sugar if necessary, and re-heat if needed to dissolve additional sugar. Cool and serve with pulled pork, or store in an air-tight container.