Ronnie Sinclair's Traditional North Carolina Vinegar Mop The Fiery Cross from Outlander

Battle BBQ - Ronnie Sinclair's Traditional North Carolina Vinegar Mop

"It's poison, is what it is!"  Ronnie Sinclair was saying hotly, as I came up behind him.  "She'll ruin it -- it'll no be fit for pigs when she's done!"

"It is pigs, Ronnie, Jamie said, with considerable patience.  He rolled an eye at me, then glanced at the pit, where sizzling fat dripped onto the biers of hickory coals below.   "Myself, I shouldna think ye could do anything to a pig -- in the way of cooking that is -- that would make it not worth the eating."

"Quite true," I put in helpfully, smiling at Ronnie.  "Smoked bacon, grilled chops, roasted loin, baked ham, headcheese, sausage, sweetbreads, black pudding...somebody once said you could make use of everything in a pig but the squeal."

"Aye, well, but this is the barbecue, isn't it?"  Ronnie said stubbornly, ignoring my feeble attempt at humor.  "Anyone kens that ye sass a barbecued hog wi' vinegar -- that's the proper way of it!  After all, ye wouldna put gravel into your sausage meat, would ye?  Or boil your bacon wi' sweepings from the henhouse?  Tcha!"  He jerked his chin toward the white porter basin under Rosamund's arm, making it clear that its contents fell into the same class of inedible adulterants, in his opinion.

The Fiery Cross (Chapter 13 - Beans and Barbecue)

I'm taking a risk here...really living on the edge.  After all, barbecue is a very serious business across the South -- and has been since before R & R crossed words in the woods of North Carolina in The Fiery Cross.

And while I am a trained chef and food fanatic, the fact is that I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest; the most time I've spent in the South was the 3 or 4 weeks I had in Memphis while training as a manager for FedEx.  (Long story, another life.  Moving on...)

Memphis may be famous for its barbecue, and I did eat a lot of it while I was there.  But it's a different style than North Carolina, which is what Ronnie was so vehemently defending against Rosamund and her Devil's Apple Sauce.

So I hit the books and the web (research always lifts my sails), and I feel pretty confident that what I came up with would pass Ronnie's muster.

I await nervously to hear what the rest of you think.  ;)

North Carolina Vinegar Mop

Traditionally, Eastern North Carolina barbecue involves smoking whole pigs in a pit.

But since there's only 2 of us, AND my little bar-fridge-sized smoker has a limited capacity (although I have had 8 chickens in there at once), AND our little island grocery store only had pork butt or leg roasts in the 2.5 lb range last Thursday, Battle Barbecue consisted  of 2 roasts that some Southerners may consider lacking in the size department.  But when you live on an island, you have to take what you can get.

I chose butt roasts -- aka the shoulder, where the leg butts against the pig's torso (it's not from the pig's ass) --  they're much better for barbecue than leg roasts, which can turn out tough, no matter how long you cook them.

And then I spent the afternoon, walking between Ronnie's Butt in the smoker outside the basement door and Rosamund's Butt in our gas grill on the deck out front.  That's my kind of day.

Lastly, my research told me that pretty much everyone serves their barbecue on soft white rolls.  So that's what I did, with a little bit of coleslaw.  Next time, I think I'll make a batch of Jenny's Everyday Bread into buns.  Meat that takes this long to cook deserves something better than Wonder White.

I'm not entirely sure Ronnie, or very many others, would agree.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

"Ah, that's the stuff!  Not but what a savory sass like this 'un is wasted on your bastardly Scots," Rosamund said, replacing the burlap and patting it tenderly into place.  "You've pickled your tongues with that everlastin' vinegar you slop on your victuals.  It's all I can do to stop Kenny a-puttin' it on his corn bread and porridge of a mornin'." 

The Fiery Cross (Chapter 13 - Beans and Barbecue)

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