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Supping Down South Part 2 - Carolina BBQ

Furthering my Southern culinary journey, I went to a renowned barbecue place that I’ve always wanted to try - Rodney Scott’s Barbecue.

Located in Charleston, South Carolina (although also in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee), this chef is famous across the country for his Whole hog barbecue, and it didn’t disappoint. I knew there would be a line. And most of these BBQ places will serve the line until everything is gone and if you’re at the tail of the line, you’re out of luck. So I went early - right after they opened, and was able to order whatever I wanted.

From the front, it almost looks like a fast-food place, with an organized precision only Ray Kroc (early McDonald’s) has been able to achieve.  But one look at the back of the house and you’ll see that is hardly the case. Sam, the manager of this location, was kind enough to show me around.

I chose the whole hog sampler - top photo - and was extremely impressed. It came with brisket, cornbread, collards, pulled pork and mac n’ cheese. Besides the brisket - which was the most tender I have ever had - the collards stand out in my mind as the most satisfying - a wonderful taste memory.

The sauce - in fact, all the sauces they offer - are all true to their location.

Found mainly in the eastern half of both North and South Carolina, Eastern-style vinegar sauce has the unique honor of being the oldest barbecue sauce in the country. Given its origin in the 13 colonies, it’s literally where American barbecue was born, at the hands of enslaved chefs.

  Blasphemously, I loved this but still prefer the Kansas City sauces which are thicker, sweeter and smokier. But the Carolina-based sauces have their charm.

Rodney Scott said, “Here, barbecue sauce is a visceral concoction of vinegar and red pepper flakes — It is blankly tart and refuses to conform to mainstream notions of barbecue sauce. It’s a great contrast to the rich, more fatty nature of whole hog barbecue,” and really, because whole hog is traditional in the eastern Carolinas, that is why that sauce is preferred.”

He’s one of the few pitmasters to ever take home a James Beard Award, named the 2018 Best Chef: Southeast.

This thin condiment is fantastic when mopping your whole hog barbecue all day long.  The well-balanced combination of flavors greatly enhances the flavor of smoked proteins and helps to tenderize due to the high vinegar content.


INGREDIENTS

3 cups of apple cider vinegar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons garlic granules

2 teaspoons onion granules

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon hot sauce - (Try Mike’s Hot Honey!)

1/3 cup of ketchup (optional in different regions)


METHOD

Add the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil.

Add in all the other ingredients and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Cool and serve.

So get out the grill, hopefully a wood/charcoal grill and cook whatever meats you’ve chosen, low and s l o w, mopping the meats with this sauce - please report back. I’d love to hear your thoughts on authentic barbecue and what you love the most.  - especially as summer is just about here.



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