26 October 2017

Barbecue taste-off


On my 3½-hour drive from the coast up to RDU airport on Monday, I made just one stop. I got off the new high-speed highway at Goldsboro, N.C., and I headed for Wilber's Barbecue restaurant. It's one of the best in North Carolina, in my opinion. I've been going there since the late 1960s, because back then my father would drive me from Morehead City up to Duke University in Durham, where I was a student. He loved Wilber's pit-cooked, eastern N.C. barbecued pork, and so do I. The whole cuts of pork are basted with sauce as they barbecue, and then the meat is shredded ("pulled") and sauced some more while warm.

Wilber's barbecued pulled pork from eastern North Carolina

I bought a pound (450 grams) of the spicy, pulled pork and asked the man selling it to put it directly into a zip-top bag that I had put in my suitcase for the purpose. I flattened the barbecue out and put the bag in my suitcase for the trip back to Saint-Aignan. Coincidentally, Walt had taken some of my home-made pulled pork out of the freezer over the weekend, and there was some left over. So today we are going to taste Wilber's barbecue side by side with the pork I make in the slow cooker using eastern N.C. sauce, and we'll see how different they are.

My Saint-Aignan slow-cooked pulled barbecue made with French pork shoulder

It may well be that I am too jet-lagged to be objective about the barbecued, pulled pork. Wilber's barbecue is cooked for 8 to 10 hours in a smoke house over oak and/or hickory coals. My barbecue has been frozen, while theirs has not. Anyway, Walt also made a batch of his good cole slaw to go with it, and we have French fries to cook. It'll be a good meal, whether or not the difference between the two versions of barbecue is clear or not.

Side by side — Wilber's on the left, mine on the right


I also brought back a bottle of eastern N.C. barbecue sauce made by the Scott's Sauce Company, also located in Goldsboro. Scott's used to operate a restaurant, but it went out of business a few years back. Now it's a company that makes and sells Scott's sauce in N.C. supermarkets. The ingredients listed on the label are vinegar, water, salt, peppers, and spices. Don't think the pork tastes vinegary, though. It's spicy hot.

I wonder how many people in France have a bottle of Scott's BBQ sauce in their pantry or fridge

Think of N.C. pulled pork as a kind of French pork rillettes but with less fat and more spice, served hot. Or as Mexican carnitas without the cumin.


12 comments:

  1. If and when I go visit with you in Mareuil, I'd like to taste your pulled pork thingie. I don't think I've ever had pulled pork, either here or in France for that matter.

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    Replies
    1. Think rillettes with spices and less fat. Rillettes are pulled pork.

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  2. Clearly French Customs didn't have sniffer dogs around your luggage!

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    1. France doesn't care if you bring in meat or raw vegetables. I knew that, so I knew there was no risk bringing in the barbecued pork. U.S. customs is a different story completely.

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  3. It's very interesting to think of a baggie of meat in your suitcase!
    Growing up in NJ, we only used the term barbecue for whatever we grilled outside... sauce or not. We were not aware of an actual dish called barbecue. When we were moving to St. Louis, and stopped to see a friend of my dad's, in Indiana, they made us "Barbecue Sandwiches". It was this (but not with the NC style sauce). I had never had it before!
    Judy

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    1. As I said, I knew it was not a problem to bring meat or fresh vegetables into France. I still don't understand why U.S. Customs is so strict about such imports.

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  4. Ken

    Forgot to ask: How did Natasha react when she saw you at the RER station?

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    1. Tasha was happy to see me — that was obvious. But her reaction was mainly surprise and disbelief. She spent much of the 2½ hour drive back to Saint-Aignan just calmly licking my hand.

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  5. My bet is with Wilber. Thanks for the photo of Wilber's- these bbq places look so unassuming, but have great food.

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    1. The Wilber's barbecue had a gamier taste than my own. Is that the difference between American and French pork? Or is it that Wilber's roasts the whole pig, whereas I cook just the pork shoulder (butt)?

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  6. I've seen the Scott's sauce in the grocery store.
    However the taste test worked out, in the side-by-side picture, yours has (to me) a more pleasing color.

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  7. I like the color of my pulled pork better too. I'm not sure whether that's the meat or the seasonings. As for taste and texture, my slow-cooked pork was as good as, while slightly different from, Wilber's smokehouse pork. I will no longer feel I am missing out on anything when I make pulled pork "barbecue" here in Saint-Aignan.

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