Barbecue-Style Pulled Pork Sliders, South Carolina Barbecue Sauce and Kansas City Sauce.

A Disclaimer

I love barbecue; real barbecue.  I’m talking about meat that falls apart when a fork looks at it because it was cooked for hours over the smoking remnants of fruit trees.  I refer to the method that requires hours of time spent lovingly tending a fire outdoors and turning and mopping meat. Please let this stand as proof that I do know what ‘real’ barbecue is.  And also, that I know that these sandwiches do not constitute REAL barbecue since they were neither cooked over wood nor in a pit.  Thus, barbecue ‘style’.  And if you think this disclaimer is unnecessary, you haven’t met many avid barbecue aficionados.  That being said, these three-bite, pulled pork sandwiches are made of melt-under-your-teeth tender, smoky meat dressed with real Carolina or Kansas City barbecue sauce.  And if you can come up with a better way to get a barbecue fix in the center of snow-bound Amish country in the middle of winter, I’d sure like to hear it.  I’m waiting…

Some decisions end up being much harder than you thought they would be.  Toilet paper roll over or under? French fries or baked potato? Dog or cat?  Kansas City or South Carolina?

In the wonderful world of barbecue there are many regionally distinctive styles of barbecue sauce.  Most Americans are familiar with Kansas City style- a thick, sweet tomato or ketchup based barbecue sauce of varying degrees of thickness- while few are acquainted with some of the other barbecue sauces of American origins:

  1. South Carolina Mustard Sauce- This yellowish brown barbecue sauce takes its color from the prepared yellow mustard base.  Tangy, zippy, spicy, and smoky, this barbecue sauce makes you salivate just to smell it.  It goes with pork like Abbott went with Costello.
  2. East Carolina Sauce- (Pardon me for a moment while I don my Kevlar undies to wade into territory where I have no business being; the great barbecue sauce debate.)  Arguably the mother of all barbecue sauces, East Carolina Sauce has its roots in the slave population of the Carolinas.  East Carolina Sauce is just crushed red pepper flakes and ground black pepper mixed with vinegar with very little or no sugar.  This is vibrant and acidic and is meant both to tenderize the meat and break up some of the richness of fatty barbecue.  This is also fantastic with long-cooked pork.
  3. Texas Sauce (a.k.a. Thin Tomato Barbecue Sauce)- Where’s the beef?  Right here.  Texas Sauce is a miracle worker when it comes to tenderizing notoriously tough beef briskets.  It’s another vinegar based sauce, but this one is laced with chili powder, cumin, fresh onion, meat drippings, other spices and just the teensiest kiss of tomato sauce or ketchup.  It’s not just an afterthought, though.  Texas Sauce is usually mopped on while cooking and then used as a dip or topping to finish the meat.
  4. Lexington Dip- This is kind of like a gentler East Carolina Sauce.  It contains all the same ingredients, but also has a hint of tomato sauce or ketchup added.  The small amount of sweetness from the tomato cuts back the pucker power of East Carolina Sauce ever-so-slightly.

…And that’s just barely scratching the surface.  My loyalties lie with South Carolina Mustard Sauce and Kansas City Sauce.  If you hold a slow-cooked spare rib to my throat and force me to pick, I’d probably go with the South Carolina Sauce, but that’s a barbecue sauce lover’s Sophie’s Choice. Now give me that rib.

Recently we found ourselves with a large quantity of leftover slow-cooked, shredded pork* and a pan full of crusty, garlic dinner rolls. While I tried to summon culinary inspiration, The Evil Genius passed by me muttering, “How about barbecue pork sliders?”  Eureka!  He had it!  But then came the real dilemma. South Carolina Mustard Sauce or Kansas City Sauce? “Why not both?” quoth he as he passed the other direction.  Sidebar: he was not reading my mind.  I have a habit of talking to myself in the kitchen. That day, someone answered.

*Why?  Because I slow-cook ten-pound pork shoulders when I make my melt-in-your-mouth Cuban Pork and even we can’t eat all that in one sitting.

Why not, indeed?  At only a couple minutes of hands-on time each it was easy to whip up both.  And so we did.  And boy, were they both good!  This dinner took five minutes of hands-on time.  I’m sure you could figure out something to do with a little time you save making dinner, right?  (Don’t tell, but I spend that extra time hiding in the closet eating the last brownie.  I told the kids the dog got it. And I don’t feel an iota of guilt.)

These irresistible little sandwiches are equally at home in a week-night dinner,  on a party buffet or as a midnight snack. They’re also pretty addictive.  But that’s okay, because they’re little so they’re low-calorie. Right?

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Stir together all ingredients except the soy sauce, butter and liquid smoke in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Add the soy sauce, butter and liquid smoke and stir well.  Return to a simmer over low heat and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often.

Cool to room temperature before transferring to a jar or squeeze bottle.  Store, tightly lidded, in the refrigerator.

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup good quality ketchup
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, according to heat preference
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.

Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Cool to room temperature before transferring to a jar or squeeze bottle.  Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Barbecue- Style Pulled Pork Sliders

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Ingredients:

3 cups slow-cooked, shredded pork

1/4 cup preferred barbecue sauce, plus additional sauce for serving (Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe and Kansas City Barbecue Sauce Recipe)

12 warm dinner rolls (preferably crusty rolls, like these Garlic Bubbles.)

Toss shredded pork and barbecue sauce together in a microwave save bowl.  Cover and reheat on ‘HIGH for one minute.  Alternately, you can toss the pork and barbecue sauce together in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and reheat -covered- over a low flame until warmed through.

Split the rolls in the center with a serrated knife.  Sandwich about 1/4 cup of the saucy meat in between the top and bottom halves of each roll.  Serve immediately with sauce on the side.

And here’s where I need your help.  While I’ve already stated my preference, if forced to choose, would lie with the mustard sauce, it’s just barely a preference.  The Evil Genius threw down his lot with the Kansas City Sauce.  The kids were evenly divided, since two liked the mustard sauce, two liked the tomato sauce and one couldn’t make up his mind and opted for a banana instead.

Give a girl a little help, would you?  Since we can’t decide, and I have another pork roast languishing in my meat drawer, I want your opinion.  Do you like South Carolina Sauce or Kansas City Sauce better?  Do you prefer your own concoction?  Do tell.  And share recipes if you have one you love more than a bag of chips.

5.0 from 1 reviews

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce and Kansas City Sauces
Author: 
Recipe type: Condiment, Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
You’re sure to please everyone in the crowd with these dueling sauces; Sticky, sweet, smoky, tomato based Kansas City Sauce and tangy, spicy, zippy, mustard based South Carolina Sauce. What’s your favorite?
Ingredients
Ingredients for South Carolina Barbecue Sauce:
  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
Ingredients for Kansas City Style Sauce:
  • 1 cup good quality ketchup
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1½ Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, according to heat preference
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
To Make South Carolina Barbecue Sauce:
  1. Stir together all ingredients except the soy sauce, butter and liquid smoke in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  3. Add the soy sauce, butter and liquid smoke and stir well.
  4. Return to a simmer over low heat and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Cool to room temperature before transferring to a jar or squeeze bottle.
  6. Store, tightly lidded, in the refrigerator.
To Make Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  3. Cool to room temperature before transferring to a jar or squeeze bottle.
  4. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
Notes
Both of these are fresh sauces, meaning they are best made within a couple of days of their intended use. They will store well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but are not tested for home canning.

 

Comments

  1. I’m a native Tar Heel who grew up just north of the state line, which I think makes me qualified to say that you did a great job of outlining the differences between South Carolina and East Carolina styles. I live in the Midwest now, and we have some great BBQ here, but nothing reminds me of home more than a good mustard or vinegar based sauce. (OK, well, maybe Calabash-style seafood is an exception . . . ) Thanks for making me homesick! :-) Cheers

  2. Wow you did an amazing job! Everything looks delicious. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Mouth watering post! My husband makes a kick ass pulled pork with the East Carolina sauce. Not too shabby for a New Yorker!

  4. Mariandy- I couldn’t ask for higher praise than that! Thank you!

    Karine- A big thanks to you, too!

    Susie- Well, shucks. That’s high praise, too!

  5. I’m so excited to try the Canned Barbecue Beans recipe, thank you for posting both Barbecue Sauces – I also have a pork roast cooked and just waiting to be smothered in a little sauce!
    Blessings,
    Terri

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