North Carolina pulled meat barbecue has become very popular during the last two decades. This style of Open Pit BBQ used to only be found from Virginia to the Carolinas. Now BBQ shops and casual restaurants from coast to coast offer pulled barbecue of one kind or another.
North Carolina style Open Pit BBQ basting sauces are basically butter and vinegar that is flavored with mustard and hot chile peppers. The thin vinegar basting sauce is mopped on the meat as it slowly roasts over open pit embers. The acidic vinegar tenderizes the meat while adding plenty of flavor. The smoke and caramelization from roasting over open pit embers creates that old rustic country style flavor that is simply irresistible.Pork Butt, Pork Shoulder, Whole Chicken and Whole Turkey are the top choice meats for making pulled barbecue. By far, Pulled Pork BBQ is the most popular. In fact, I thought that there was only Pulled Pork BBQ, till I had dinner at a barbecue restaurant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This restaurant offered Pulled Chicken BBQ and Pulled Turkey BBQ too. I tried the Pulled Turkey BBQ and I have preferred the turkey version ever since.
Turkey sells for a high price near Thanksgiving, but during the rest of the year the price is a bit cheaper. Turkey legs, thighs and wings are the bargain price cuts and these sections are perfect for making pulled barbecue. The turkey breast meat makes good pulled barbecue too, but there are other recipes that the breast meat is better off being used for. Budget minded people will find that there is plenty of white meat on an inexpensive turkey wing. When making today's recipe example, I got two 5 oz portions of pulled barbecue from one turkey wing!
Real pulled barbecue is always slow cooked over embers in a deep open pit grill. This can be simulated with a kettle style barbecue grill. A low temperature meat smoker with just a thin wisp of smoke works fine too.
Slow roasting and basting the meat in an oven produces pretty good pulled barbecue, but there will be no smokey flavor. I actually cooked 20 large pork butts this way at a hunting lodge resort in Wyoming last summer and the flavor was great. Allowing the thin vinegar and butter basting sauce to do its thing made all the difference in the world.
Some restaurants place the meat in a deep roasting pan, then cover the meat with water and a lid before roasting. The meat might turn out tender enough to shred, but the flavor will be far too bland. This mass production version of pulled barbecue is usually found at volume oriented restaurants that care little about quality.
Real pulled meat barbecue is pulled and shredded by hand. Chopping the meat instead of shredding by hand, usually means that the meat was not tender enough after cooking.
North Carolina Pulled Meat BBQ Basting Sauce:
This recipe yields enough basting sauce for about 1 1/2 pounds of meat. (About 2 cups)
The basting sauce does not taste great on its own. After slow roasting with the meat, the flavor changes for the better!
Step 1: Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
Add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.
Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
Add l/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
Add 1 teaspoon of English Dry Mustard (or 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard).
Add 1 tablespoon of crushed pickled hot red chile peppers. (Korean style Coarse Red Serrano Pepper Paste is a good choice.)
Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper.
Step 2: Place the pot over medium heat.
Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat.
Let the basting sauce stand for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
Set the basting sauce aside.
North Carolina Pulled Turkey Barbecue:
This recipe yields about 10 ounces. (Two portions.)
One large whole turkey wing will yield about 10 to 14 ounces of boneless meat.
The oven roasting method, open pit barbecue method , meat smoker method or chargrill method can be used to cook the turkey. Either way, the object is to slowly roast the turkey over low heat and baste often.
Step 1: *For the meat smoker or oven method, place 1 large turkey wing on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan. Very slow roast the turkey wing at 230ºF in an oven or smoker with the vent set to a minimum of smoke.
*For the chargrill or open pit method, keep the embers spread out, so they create a moderately low heat range of about 275ºF.
Step 2: Baste the turkey wing often with the North Carolina style BBQ basting sauce. (About once every 5 or 10 minutes.
Baste and slow roast the turkey wing till the meat is fully cooked and tender. (About a little more than 1 hour.)
*When finished, the meat should easily pull away from the skin and bones. The meat should be tender enough to shred by hand.
Step 3: Let the turkey wing cool to room temperature.
Remove and discard the skin, fat and bones.
Pull the meat with your fingers across the meat grain. The meat will pull apart in small chunks and shreds.
Step 4: Place the pulled turkey meat in a roasting pan.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the North Carolina BBQ Basting Sauce on the turkey meat.
Place the pan in a 300ºF for about 10 minutes.
Moisten with more basting sauce as needed, so the meat does not become dry.
Step 5: Remove the pan from the oven.
The North Carolina Pulled Turkey Barbecue is now ready to serve!
North Carolina Style Buttermilk Cole Slaw:
This recipe yields 2 portions. (About 1 1/2 cups)
Step 1: Place 1 1/3 cups of finely chopped cabbage in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped carrot.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced onion.
Step 2: Add enough buttermilk to thoroughly coat the cabbage. (About 1/2 cup.)
Add 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Allow the cole slaw to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Dill Potato Salad:
This recipe yields 2 portions. (About 2 cups)
Step 1: Place 1 large 8 ounce peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.
Cover the potato with 2" of extra water.
Boil over medium high heat till the potato is cooked tender, but not mushy.
Step 2: Drain off the water.
Chill the potato to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
Step 3: Large dice the boiled potato.
Place the diced boil potato in a mixing bowl.
Step 4: Add 1 chopped green onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped celery.
Add 1 chopped hard boiled egg.
Add 2 pinches of chopped parsley.
Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
Step 5: Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream.
Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard.
Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. (About 1/3 cup)
Mix the ingredients together.
Step 6: Place the potato salad in a container.
Chill the potato salad to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
Corn on the Cob:
This recipe yields 2 portions.
Step 1: Cut a shucked corn on the cob in half.
Place the 2 corn cob halves in a sauce pot.
Cover the corn with 1" of extra water.
Gently boil over medium heat till the corn kernels are tender.
Step 2: Drain the water off of the corn.
Brush the corn on the cob with melted unsalted butter.
Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
Mashed Sweet Potato:
This recipe yields 2 portions.
Step 1: Boil an 8 ounce sweet potato in water, till it is soft and tender. (Leave the skin on the sweet potato.)
Step 2: Remove the sweet potato from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes.
Hold the warm sweet potato with a dry towel and scrape the skin off with the back of a paring knife.
Step 3: Place the warm peeled boiled sweet potato in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of softened unsalted butter.
Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.
Add 1 pinch of allspice.
Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
Step 4: Thoroughly mash and whisk the ingredients together till it is smooth.
Place the mashed sweet potato in a star tipped pastry bag.
Keep the mashed sweet potatoes warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
This recipe yields 2 portions.
Step 1: Melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over low heat.
Add 4 cloves of minced garlic.
Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
Gently simmer till the garlic flavor infuses with the butter. (About 5 minutes.)
Remove the sauce pot from the heat.
Step 2: Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
Brush 4 slices of country style white bread with the garlic butter.
Grill both sides of the bread till golden brown highlights appear.
Keep the garlic bread warm on a stove top.
North Carolina Pulled Turkey Barbecue Platter:
This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
Place a mound of the Pulled Turkey BBQ on the front half of a platter.
Mound a portion of the Dill Potato Salad on top of a bed of lettuce leaves on the back half of the platter.
Use the pastry bag to pipe 1 portion of the Mashed Sweet Potato on the platter.
Place a ramekin of the Buttermilk Cole Slaw on the platter.
Place 2 grilled garlic bread slices on the platter.
Place 1/2 ear of corn on the cob on the platter.
This is a classic North Carolina Pulled Turkey BBQ platter!