F is for Food: BarbecuePosted on May 25, 2015
Since the 1500s, when the Spanish introduced pigs in the South, they have been plentiful in North Carolina as a low-maintenance, convenient food source. Before the Civil War, Southerners ate an average of five pounds of pork for every pound of beef. The Indians developed the basic barbecue technique, burning a large oak or hickory log on a grate until the coals fell through, then shoving the coals into a hole in the ground and placing meat on a rack above them to cook. With only minor variations, pigs have been roasted over coals in just this way for over 300 years in the Tar Heel state. (from Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue)
Today, two styles of North Carolina barbecue are common in Durham. Eastern-style, whole hog flavored with red and black peppers, dates back to colonial days. Lexington-style, shoulders of the pig only and tomato in the sauce, evolved later, around the late 1800s, in the western half of the state.
This barbecue recipe is from The Southern Cook Book by Marion Brown, published by The University of North Carolina Press in 1951:
Barbecue Pig, Scotland Neck Style
Serves forty to fifty
Scotland Neck in Halifax County, North Carolina is famous for superior Southern barbecue. This authentic recipe is for “pit-cooked” barbecue, cooked over oak coals.
Dig a hole or pit sufficiently large so that when the pig is placed over it there wil be a 4-or-5 inch margin at both ends and at one side; the other side should have a margin of at least 20 inches so that the coals can be easily placed under the pig when cooking. The depth of the pit should be such that the pig will be 8 to 10 inches from the coals when cooking. Put 3 or 4 iron rods across the pit to put pig on.
Since coals (only) are used in cooking, a fire will have to be built in a separate location. This should be on an elevated wire grating with a 2-or-3 inch mesh so that the coals cannot drop through. Hardwoods, preferably oak, make the best coals.
Select a pig which will weigh approximately 65 pounds when dressed. Cut off head and slit down entire length of belly. Open up so that the pig will lie flat.
A sauce for mopping (basting), while cooking, is made by using 1 ½ quarts of vinegar seasoned to taste with red pepper pods. A simple mop can be made by tying a rag around the end of a stick.
Place the pig on the iron rods across the pit with the skin up, and it stays in this position until it is nearly finished cooking. Put a thin layer of live coals in the pit under the entire surface of the pig, and replenish coals from time to time. Cook slowly–it should take from 6 to 7 hours. Mop the skin side with sauce 3 or 4 times while cooking. In this position the pig should cook practically done and to a beautiful brown on the under side. However, be careful not to put the coals under it too fast or too freely as it will burn. When it is determined that it is done, rub the skin side with a thin coating of lard and turn the pig over so that the skin side will be over the coals. Let stay long enough for the skin to become brown and crisp. While skin is browning add some salt to the vinegar sauce and mop freely the cooked side. This is for the purpose of seasoning.
When the cooking process is completed take the pig off and allow to cool only long enough to be handled. Cut it up into small pieces with a knife; DO NOT run it through meat chopper. When it is cut up put it into a large container and season it to taste using the same sauce as for the cooking, but with salt added. The seasoning should be worked into the meat thoroughly.
This should be served with cole slaw and real cornbread.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry T. Clark, Sr., Scotland Neck, N.C.
Next week—coleslaw to go with the pig.
The Museum of Durham History and the North Carolina Collection at the Durham County Library are partnering to bring you food lore and recipes from the North Carolina Collection, just in time for the Durham A-Z: F is for Food exhibit, on display at the History Hub through July 27.
Originally published in Herald-Sun 05/24/2015