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Authentic NC BBQ


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30 replies to this topic

#1 =Mark

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 10:57 AM

Was passing through Charlotte International Airporton my way to Huntsville last Monday and had time to catch a bite to eat. Was looking at the menu posted outside the "Cheers" faux pub and restaurant and saw "Authentic North Carolina Pork BBQ" as one of the offerings. Being less than 2 weeks since Varmin's Pig Pickin I figure what the heck, lets see what these folks consider to be authentic.

Was actually surprised! For a chain operation the place actually turned out a passable product, which is unusual in most any type of commercial operation. It had somewhat less of the "Mr. Brown" bits of crispy smoked outer pig than I prefer, but was fairly juicy and was topped with a minimal amount of vinegary slaw. The only major departure was the addition of a little plastic container of what was closer to a Memphis style BBQ sauce than anything NC. Varmint would have been in the kitchen kicking ass & taking names... :raz:

Edited by =Mark, 24 October 2003 - 10:57 AM.

=Mark

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#2 Varmint

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 12:13 PM

Yeah, Mark knows how sensitive I am when it comes to North Carolina barbecue when he put out bottles of his wonderful, but tremendously out of place, "Carolina Mustard Sauce" on the table at the pig pickin'. Mustard sauce turns outstanding North Carolina barbecue into outstanding South Carolina barbecue. Seeing I live in North Carolina, we just couldn't have none of that here. :wink:
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#3 kpurvis

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Posted 28 October 2003 - 10:31 AM

I'm on my way to Charlotte Douglas in an hour. I'll remember that tip if I need a last-minute fix. And while I apologize on behalf of my city for the sauce, I will point out with civic pride that Charlotte has good rocking chairs in its airport.
Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

#4 Varmint

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Posted 28 October 2003 - 10:43 AM

You set 'em straight, Kathi. And don't fall asleep in one of those rockers.
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#5 Thrak

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 03:54 PM

Next time, if you want a good bbq sandwich, go to Memphis. That vinegar based Carolina stuff is an absolute disgrace. What a way to destroy a good bbq sandwich- yuck. And as far as a Carolina Gold sauce- only Maurices so far tastes like more than just vinegar. My wife cleans her hair with vinegar. An aquired taste i suppose, but i thought ya'll had better taste. :shock:

#6 Varmint

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:06 PM

Thrak, I hope your comment was made in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, as you certainly know how much pride comes into play when it comes to regional variations of barbecue. Regardless, if you still believe that Memphis barbecue is superior to what we produce in North Carolina, I'd like your reasoning why, including why vinegar ruins the dish. I recently held a pig pickin' where I made both eastern and western style NC barbecue, and the many out of town guests who were a tad suspicious of the vinegar unanimously declared my barbecue to be the best pork they ever had.

Regardless, I look forward to a friendly debate on this particular issue. If you were joking, then I apologize for missing it -- I'm tired!
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#7 Malawry

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:46 PM

I am fond of many types of bbq, but nothing matches NC BBQ in my heart. Especially when Varmint is the pitmaster. :wub:

In general I like tart flavors, and a real NC vinegary BBQ sauce is a thing of delight on slow-smoked pork.

#8 KatieLoeb

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:51 PM

Next time, if you want a good bbq sandwich, go to Memphis. That vinegar based Carolina stuff is an absolute disgrace. What a way to destroy a good bbq sandwich- yuck. And as far as a Carolina Gold sauce- only Maurices so far tastes like more than just vinegar. My wife cleans her hair with vinegar. An aquired taste i suppose, but i thought ya'll had better taste. :shock:

Thrak:

As one of the many sated guests at Dean's most gracious Pig Pickin', I too would wonder first, what makes Memphis BBQ distinctive, and second, what is it about NC BBQ that you don't like? Is it just the vinegary-ness? Is it the slaw on top as opposed to on the side? You'll have to be a bit more specific about the source of your dismay and speak out with more pride and specifics about Memphis style for those of us that haven't had the pleasure. I often wonder about the regional differences in BBQ styles, and since I haven't been fortunate enough to visit all these various places, like Blanche DuBois, I rely on the kindness of strangers to set me right :rolleyes:

I, for one, was surprised that the vinegar really sort of cut the greasiness of the pork down and was quite pleasant tasting with the pork when done well and with subtlety. Nothing tastes good with too much vinegar on it, including vinaigrette dressing!

I look forward to an informative reply... :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
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#9 maggiethecat

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 05:02 PM

An aquired taste i suppose, but i thought ya'll had better taste. :shock:

What passes for a BBQ pork sandwich here in Illinois sports a sauce like Open Pit. Gee, I always liked them just fine.

But I've been introduced to the tart glories of vinergary pulled pork in the last six months, both here and at Varmint's Pig Pickin', Now I can understand just how partisan folks get about their local version of Q. I find--not surprisingly-- that the NC sauce lets the flavor of the pig shine through, and yes, cuts the delicious grease a tad.

Help me out, thrack. I'm just a Yankee Gal longing to know more 'bout Q. Tell me how you folks do it in Memphis.

Margaret McArthur

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#10 Al_Dente

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 05:22 PM

I do like all kinds of Q, but as another Varmint's Pig Pickin alumni, I gotta say that the vinegar can have a magical influence on that pork. I love NC style-- eastern or western.
peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...
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#11 Mummer

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:13 PM

Meat! Smoke! Pork! Beef!

Even damn chicken! (I'm a KFC alum from college days. There are many things I'd rather eat than chicken.)

I've only eaten Memphis BBQ once. I was returning from a family reunion in Austin this June. I had an Austin beef BBQ at their airport - certainly the last place you'd trust for food - but I had it none the less. Philly was hours away.

My connections became frazzled. I was on a plane to Memphis. I arrived to find that my gate was adjacent to ??? Famous Memphis BBQ. All of the airline staff was in line. I had eaten two hours earlier. I asked myself, "What would Holly do?"

That was the answer. I got in line and bought a chopped BBQ sammie. It was very good. A yellow roll and a mound of good meat, stacked with slaw and Memphis BBQ sauce. Again, it was very good.

But it was very sweet. That, I propose, is the point here. The Cackalackies feel they've reduced the sugar appropriately. Others disagree.

Eat whereever you want.
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#12 Thrak

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:17 PM

I've lived in TN, SC, and now Chicago. I'm not talking about ribs- only a smoked butt on the Webers. From my eating experiences in NC and SC i've only found that the butt is usually about half smoked, shredded, and soaked in straight vinegar. Same goes for the slaw etc. Mustard based Carolina sauce such as Scott's or Prosser's just doesn't do justice to a properly smoked pork shoulder. Those things take time...and an alarm clock- believe me! Yes Memphis sauce is a bit thicker and sweeter, more like SBR's, but the pork hasn't been covered with vinegar. In Memphis a pulled pork sandwich consists of a cheap white hamburger bun covered with a big pile of juicy pink pulled (or chopped) pork shoulder "slowly smoked", coleslaw (not vinegar based)- and not mayonaisse based either, and a sweet kinda thick or thin bbq sauce. The BBQ places are everywhere, just like a local favorite in your area, ie Vienna hot dog stands in Chicago. All i'm saying is that a Memphis BBQ sandwich doesn't taste like pickeled eggs or whatever, from one of those big jars at the corner bar. In Chicago now, it's hard to find any non- yankee bbq that hasn't been roasted in an oven and boiled in sauce. And coleslaw on your sandwich? Forget about it :wacko: Everybody, these are just my opinions and i know each region does a different style and i wasn't at Varmint's pig pickin, but if you want to try a really good bbq- go to Memphis (in the meantime). Sorry, couldn't resist the lyric. Grant F :cool:

#13 Varmint

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:29 PM

Thanks for the response, Thrak. I think you've managed to taste some bad NC barbecue, and that's a heck of a lot easier to find than the good stuff. If you're ever in the Raleigh area, let me know, and I'll show you how a vinegar-based sauce can enhance, rather than mask, the flavor of the pork.

And keep on posting!!!!
Dean McCord
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#14 Al_Dente

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:30 PM

I've lived in TN, SC, and now Chicago. I'm not talking about ribs- only a smoked butt on the Webers. From my eating experiences in NC and SC i've only found that the butt is usually about half smoked, shredded, and soaked in straight vinegar. Same goes for the slaw etc. Mustard based Carolina sauce such as Scott's or Prosser's just doesn't do justice to a properly smoked pork shoulder. Those things take time...and an alarm clock- believe me! Yes Memphis sauce is a bit thicker and sweeter, more like SBR's, but the pork hasn't been covered with vinegar. In Memphis a pulled pork sandwich consists of a cheap white hamburger bun covered with a big pile of juicy pink pulled (or chopped) pork shoulder "slowly smoked", coleslaw (not vinegar based)- and not mayonaisse based either, and a sweet kinda thick or thin bbq sauce. The BBQ places are everywhere, just like a local favorite in your area, ie Vienna hot dog stands in Chicago. All i'm saying is that a Memphis BBQ sandwich doesn't taste like pickeled eggs or whatever, from one of those big jars at the corner bar. In Chicago now, it's hard to find any non- yankee bbq that hasn't been roasted in an oven and boiled in sauce. And coleslaw on your sandwich? Forget about it :wacko: Everybody, these are just my opinions and i know each region does a different style and i wasn't at Varmint's pig pickin, but if you want to try a really good bbq- go to Memphis (in the meantime). Sorry, couldn't resist the lyric. Grant F :cool:

Well, this baby wasn't half smoked-- it was slow cooked over hickory, pecan, and a few other varieties for something like 14 hours. It was sublime. I can't imagine it being much better.

I'm sure there are some places in NC that take shortcuts, but I've rarely experienced anything merely good-- almost always at least excellent.
peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...
-- A.B.

#15 Thrak

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 07:30 PM

Hey Varmint, if you have another pig pickin we'll be there...But i still have my opinion :biggrin: I could tell you some priceless food stories. :smile:

#16 Al_Dente

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 07:50 PM

Hey Varmint, if you have another pig pickin we'll be there...But i still have my opinion :biggrin: I could tell you some priceless food stories. :smile:

Varmint-- you'll have to have another pickin if only to convert this poor soul.
peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...
-- A.B.

#17 mighty quinn

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 07:54 PM

oh yes, that POOR LOST SOUL! N.C. BBQ RULES!!!
"Ham isn't heroin..." Morgan Spurlock from "Supersize Me"

#18 Varmint

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 06:17 AM

Hey Varmint, if you have another pig pickin we'll be there...But i still have my opinion :biggrin: I could tell you some priceless food stories. :smile:

Thrak, priceless food stories is what eGullet is all about!! Share them with all of us!
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#19 jwagnerdsm

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 08:05 AM

If it will get me an invite to your next Pig Pickin' confab, then I'm going to begin extolling the virtues of Des Moines style barbecue: That would be a pork chop with ketchup on the side :unsure:

#20 Varmint

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 08:07 AM

If it will get me an invite to your next Pig Pickin' confab, then I'm going to begin extolling the virtues of Des Moines style barbecue: That would be a pork chop with ketchup on the side :unsure:

You were invited to the last pig pickin'!!!! Everyone on eGullet was invited.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't hold your breath for another one.
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#21 jwagnerdsm

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 08:10 AM

What if I brought the pig?

#22 Squeat Mungry

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 11:35 AM

I'm very sorry I wasn't able to attend Varmint's pig-pickin', as I'm an old east-NC boy (Bladen County) and really miss east-NC barbeque! Here in San Francisco, the only available barbeque is memphis-style, and it is too sweet for my tastes.

When I was growing up, the publicly-expressed consensus among my extended family and their friends was that the only edible barbeque was homemade, and that the stuff available at the stands/restaurants was strictly for tourists. Privately, however, each individual seemed to have one special roadside stand they relied on when they needed a quick fix!

Cheers,

Squeat

#23 Sidratha

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 01:31 AM

Howdy all.

I am new to this forum, found while searching out recipies for NC BBQ.

I was born a Tar Heel my Momma being a Wilmington girl, Got tons of kin in NC but never kept track of them to my sorrow, for now I live in StJoseph MO after having lived in GA most of my life, but I digress, to my sorrow because I have no one to explain to me what goes into Eastern NC BBQ and I dearly love the stuff. Have been scoffed at most my life for piling coleslaw on my BBQ from FLA to TX coleslaw has topped them all if available.

I am begging anyone that will to send me recipies for the maranaide, rubs, sauce, woods used to get that special flavor, times and types of meat, whatever it takes to make my own Boston Butt taste like the ambrosia that is NC BBQ ....... I have experimented with what I think I taste as the guide only to fail dismally .... Help for I am lost and hungry.

Everytime Momma used to go to Wilmingtom or Mayple Hill she would always bring me 5lbs of BBQ and some Paul'sPlace Chow chow <somewhere arround Burgall> the BBQ came from a restraunt that she used to go to as a child somewhere arround Wrightfull Beach can not recall the Name but been there sine the 40's. Oh and 2 bottles of their sauce.

NC BBQ Rules.

Sidratha
awaits at sidratha@sidratha.net with rumbling tummy

#24 Squeat Mungry

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 04:02 AM

Sidratha,

Welcome to eGullet from another long dislodged tarheel! (I was born in Wilmington, though my kin are mostly Bladen County folk.)

I, too, am hoping Varmint or someone will post recipes enabling us to recreate the wonderful eastern North Carolina BBQ from our past! Varmint?

How'd you end up in MO? (My brother now lives in Columbia, where he runs an art-house cinema/cafe.)

Cheers,

Squeat

Edited by Squeat Mungry, 09 November 2003 - 04:47 AM.


#25 phlawless

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 06:35 AM

There's a relatively new place for BBQ in the Triangle: the Q shack...owned and operated by Scott Howell of Nana's. Wondered if anyone from here has an opinion, though it's not true eastern NC style, they have some sort of 'battle' between Western NC and Texas style. He's got one open in Durham now with a shop in Raleigh soon to open. Though an eastern fan myself, i appreciate the option they provide. But the sides suck...why doesn't anyone do mac n' cheese right? Where are the collards, and decent black eyed peas? The experiences i've had (Wilber's, Lexington, Cooper's: except the pork rinds) all make good Q but the sides are severly lacking.
"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

#26 =Mark

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 07:41 AM

Don't have recipes, but for those who missed the pics of the Pig Pickin' there is a condensed collection of them here.
=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.
Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.
Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

#27 Varmint

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 07:42 AM

First, welcome Sidratha!!

As far as "recipes" for NC barbecue are concerned, there's really not much to do. I am in the early stages of putting together an eGCI course on a pig pickin', but let me cut to the chase: to do eastern style barbecue, you need a whole hog that you have salted (or brined -- good luck with that!). You need to slow cook it over hardwood -- it's not just smoked, you actually want a bit of heat under the pig that cooks the beast. Keep temperature as close to 225F as you can. You need to crisp the skin. Then chop the meat, making sure you cut in some crispy skin, some of the non-skin crispies. Add a touch of sauce, which is really just apple cider vinegar, red pepper, and a bit of sugar. I put some other stuff in my sauce (e.g., orange rind), but that's just an idiosyncratic thing to do to make it sound as if my sauce is truly original. That's it.

For the western or Lexington style barbecue, use shoulders. Again, slow cook OVER hardwood. The difference is that this meat will be much more uniform in consistency and the smoke flavor is generally more pronounced simply because you're dealing with a smaller cut of meat. This is also chopped and sauced, but the western style sauce has some ketchup added to it, along with more sugar. I like brown sugar, simply because it has a bit more of that caramel flavor. In the end, though, this sauce is a heck of a lot more similar to eastern style sauce than it is different. It's mostly vinegar, with just a broader assortment of flavors.

I ultimately prefer eastern style simply because it represents all that is good in pork. Brown and white meat, skin, a bit of fat. The sauce is hardly noticeable if done right. Screw it up, and it's mediocre. Get it right, and it's heavenly. Screw up western style, and the smoke will cover up some of the problems. Get it right, and it's also fantastic, but you don't taste the pork as well as you do with eastern style. I'll take either style any day of the week.
Dean McCord
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#28 Varmint

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 07:46 AM

There's a relatively new place for BBQ in the Triangle: the Q shack...owned and operated by Scott Howell of Nana's. Wondered if anyone from here has an opinion, though it's not true eastern NC style, they have some sort of 'battle' between Western NC and Texas style. He's got one open in Durham now with a shop in Raleigh soon to open. Though an eastern fan myself, i appreciate the option they provide. But the sides suck...why doesn't anyone do mac n' cheese right? Where are the collards, and decent black eyed peas? The experiences i've had (Wilber's, Lexington, Cooper's: except the pork rinds) all make good Q but the sides are severly lacking.

Thanks, phlawless. There's a thread on the QShack here. I thought the sides I had several months ago were pretty good, but I haven't been back to Durham since. The new joint in Raleigh, which should open in a couple of weeks, is only a mile from my house, so I'm looking forward to visiting it.

Realize, however, that they're using a commercial smoker for their barbecue, meaning that the meat is smoked rather than cooked over hardwood in a smokey environment. That's a somewhat important distinction. I still liked the stuff I had, but IIRC, I preferred the brisket.
Dean McCord
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#29 Sidratha

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 02:28 PM

Thank you all for the warm welcome ....... I have been hunting recipies and methods of cooking NC BBQ for a long time to no avail as it seems those in the know want to keep the interlopers from learning the secrets to Pork Nirvana. It was indeed refreshing to have Varmit give up information so freely.

Varmit ..... is there not a way to use the brinkman or weber on a Boston Butt to achieve Eastern BBQ without having to grill an entire pig? I have done half and whole pigs before but always burried with rocks or on a spit. I have no large pit or smoker though I will gain one in the future <I hope>.

Squeat ......... my condensed history ........ Born 1/26/54 at Camp LeJune, father from West "By God" Virginia mother from Wilmington, father got out of the Corps and went back to the mines of Logan County WVA, Alantic Coastline moved to Jacksonville Fla thus so too my Momma's parents, shortly thereafter the mines shut down while in Jax for Christmas and we stayed as my Dad found a job making Paper and I was pulled from the two room school house in Landville WVa and placed in a school with more students than Landville and Man had citizens.

Then in the sumer between the 7th and 8th grades my Dad got a job as electrician at Gilman Paper Co in StMarys Ga whereupon we moved to another rual enviroment which after living in Jax was like returning to the Ice Age. I graduated from Camden County High School in 1971 at 17 as I started at 5 in WVa. Went to college and was just too young made deans list first quarter flunked out second thus I became a Paper Maker. Did a stint in the Navy married a Texas girl < I was stationed in Dallas>had a child 13 years later divirced and remarried to an Airforce brat whose roots are in StJoseph.

After 22 years of making paper My health was failing so I medically retired from Gilman and was deemed 100% disabled by Social Security, my wife and I both wanted out of Camden County and I needed a drier climate, as we searched for where to move her Grandmother died and we came here to StJoe to bury her, the wife started in on moving to Mo from that point on , then about 3 months later her step grandfather died leaving the house to his side which we purchased from them, thus I am now in StJoe. It is nice but very different than anything I am used to. KC BBQ is too dang sweet!!!!!

Our house is in the Musem Hill Area of town is 157 years old and needs lots of work and TLC, the rub is everything has to go through the historic society before it can be done and certain materials can not be employed thus increased cost in refurbishing it, but we will get it all fixed and made ready for another 157 years of use.

BTW if you are a Ives, Heath, Cain , Innis or Dury you are probably a cousin.

Sidratha

#30 Varmint

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 05:27 PM

You can certainly come close to an eastern style Q, but remember that eastern style, by its very nature, is one consisting of the whole hog. Try a ham and a shoulder so you get a mix of brown and white meat. Low and slow. Keep the skin on, and then try to peel it off once the meat is done to crisp it. You'll want to cut it in with the rest of the meat. Gently sauce the meat mix.
Dean McCord
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