July 13th, 2014 | MATTHEW KORFHAGE Food & Drink |

North Carolina Pulled Pork: The South's Version of Hard Cider

The 50 Plates tour continues with Tails and Trotters' verison of the Tar Heel State's signature BBQ

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Summer is road-trip season, so we're taking a culinary tour of America. But because Portland is a city of immigrants from other states, we don't have to leave town to do it. We're traveling to 50 Portland restaurants to try one distinctive food from each state. Our 50 Plates tour continues with pulled pork from North Carolina, which joined the union on November 21, 1789.

The state: North Carolina only joined the Confederacy when Lincoln asked them to invade their sister state. Despite South Carolina's insistence on mustard-based sauce, North Carolina refused. The state nonetheless provided a small number of troops to the Union, a tradition that has remained in the personage of Chapel Hill and the Triangle, which has long provided quarter to college-aged Yankees and general weirdos. Like Missouri, North Carolina has a long jazz tradition—from John Coltrane to Thelonious Monk—that mostly involves leaving for New York. Ben Folds Five, however, never left.

 

The food: Pulled pork with vinegar-based sauce. The proper version of this is a subject of no small politics in North Carolina, which in 2006 issued two competing bills to the legislature that would have taken a side on whether the Lexington-style, pork-shoulder-usin', ketchup-includin' pork barbecue, or the East-style, whole-pig-smokin', no-ketchup-havin' pork barbecue was the state's official" version. In the end, the Lexington barbecue Festival was ruled to be the official barbecue festival of the "Piedmont Region." Either way, you cook the pig till you can pull it apart with a fork into little tender bits, and then you eat it, on a bun or off, probably with slaw.

Other foods considered and rejected: Krispy Kreme, Pepsi Cola, Cheerwine, Hardee's, Brunswick stew, pimiento sandwich, livermush, Hatteras clam chowder, fried pies.

Get it from: Tails and Trotters (525 NE 24th Ave, 477-8682, tailsandtrotters.com). Or, of course, at the Little Bit of Smoke Carolina BBQ cart, which we already visited for its Brunswick stew; they've got sauces from all three main Carolina styles, which sneakingly lets you blend them all together and create a united Carolina BBQ paradise. (This blended sauce is, oddly, excellent: Try something like it on weekends at Bottles, which has an Appalachian-Carolinian ketchup-vinegar-mustard sauce.) Tails and Trotters serves up a loosely Eastern-style version, with peppery vinegar sauce and a housemade garlic aioli (which, in North Carolina, they might have called mayonnaise), and some seriously tender and sweet hazelnut-fed pork. The bun's a fresh bakery roll, not a big soft piece of white-bread hamburger bun, but OK. It's pretty good. 




Click on the map to see each state's distinctive food and where to get it in Portland.

Pennsylvania Maine Louisiana Texas West Virgina Nevada NC Colorado Alaska Mississippi Washington Minnesota Tennessee Nebraska Missouri Massachusetts Michigan Wisconsin Ohio Arizona south carolina newyork Connecticut rhode island Wyoming New Mexico Kentucky Idaho alabama new jersey georgia kansas california iowa montana oklahoma indiana vermont hawaii utah arkansas maryland Virginia oregon Illinois Florida New Hampshire South Dakota Delaware North Dakota
 
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