We cross into western North Carolina to find a sauce that's starkly different. You almost won't even recognize it as barbecue sauce at first. The Piedmont area of North Carolina's take on barbecue sauce is thin, vinegary, and hot.
This isn't a sauce you'd baste on grilled chicken, but rather, as the name implies, it's used as a dip or topping. Tasted alone, it's harsh with a strong bite of vinegar and heat that borders on excessive. Introduce it to pile of pulled pork though, and it's a match made in heaven.
There's something about the vinegar that brings out the smokiness of pork all the more, and complements the pork flavor without masking it—not something you can say about thicker tomato sauces. With the sauce mixed into the pork, the heat still comes through, but in a way you may not expect after trying the sauce alone, and having your tongue burned after.
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into jar and store in refrigerator.