Lexington Dip, The Classic Hill Country North Carolina Barbecue Sauce
"Dark and silent late last night, I think I might have heard the highway calling. Geese in flight and dogs that bite. And signs that might be omens say I'm going, going I'm gone to Carolina in my mind." James Taylor
Inland from the coast in North and South Carolina, in the west part of the Carolinas, the area called Piedmont or Hill Country or the Foothills, they call the sauce "dip" and they apply it to pork shoulder most of the time. Small amounts of ketchup and sugar are added to the simple vinegarry Low Country Mop-Sauce. The result is still thin and penetrating, never thick like Kansas City Sauce.
The debate over whether ketchup belongs in barbecue sauce has caused many a shouting match and even stirred a raucous debate in the North Carolina legislature. Some recipes omit the sugar, but I think it rounds out the flavor. Using apple juice is also a veer from the standard, but I stole the idea from my favorite East Carolina sauce, George's, made in Nashville, NC. It really adds depth. Since it is mostly vinegar, it keeps a long time in the fridge.
Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time: About 30 minutes.
Keeps. Because it has a high acid content, it can keep for months in the refrigerator.
1 cup distilled vinegar (do not use cider vinegar)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
About the vinegar. I've seen both distilled and cider vinegar used in NC. I usually prefer cider vinegar in most of my sauce recipes because it has more flavor, but in this recipe I prefer distilled. Try both on meat and see which you prefer. Lemme know.
1) Whisk together all the ingredients and let them sit for at least three hours to allow the flavors to meld. Overnight is better. A week is best. The locals mop it on the meat with a basting brush once every hour while cooking. If you do mop, a good silicon brush is best. It holds lots of fluid and is easy to clean. A lot of places still use string mops, but I think these are to hard to clean and potential sources of food poisoning.
2) Before serving, take the remaining mop and boil it to sterilize it. With a clean brush, to prevent contamination by a brush used on uncooked meat, mop the meat one last time. Serve the sauce in a cruet on the side so your guests can drizzle on more if they wish. Leftovers will keep for months in the refrigerator.
This page was revised 7/22/2010
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