North Caroline-Style Pulled Pork with Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce

North Carolina boasts two distinct different styles of barbecue. To the east of Raleigh, barbecue means pulled pork doused with a tangy vinegar-base sauce. To Raleigh's west, the pulled pork is served with a darker, sweeter tomato-base sauce. To keep that sweet hickory smoke coming, be sure to presoak your wood chips.

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  • 1 pork butt, Boston butt, or untrimmed end-cut pork shoulder roast, 7-9 pounds
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce (recipe below)
  • North Carolina Coleslaw (recipe below)
  • 8 plain white hamburger buns, optional
North Carolina Coleslaw
  • 1 recipe Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, chopped

Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2- 1 tablespoon red chile flakes (the more, the hotter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Build a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking.
Do not trim any excess fat off the meat; this fat will naturally baste the meat and keep it moist during the long cooking time. Brush pork with a thin coating of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a clean tray until ready to cook.
Before placing the meat on the grill, add the soaked wood chips. Place the chips directly on gray-ashed briquettes or in the smoking box of your gas grill. If using a charcoal grill, you will need to add charcoal every hour to maintain the heat.
Place the pork in the center of the cooking grate, fat-side up, over indirect low heat. Cover and cook slowly for 4 to 5 hours at 325 degrees F to 350 degrees F, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork registers 190 degrees F to 200 degrees F. The meat should be very tender and falling apart. If there is a bone in the meat, it should come out smooth and clean with no meat clinging to it. (This is the real test for doneness on the barbecue circuit.) Remember, there is no need to turn the meat during the entire cooking time.
Let the meat rest for 20 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using rubber kitchen gloves (because it is so messy), pull the meat from the skin, bones, and fat. Set aside any crispy bits (fat) that have been completely rendered and look almost burned. Working quickly, shred the chunks of meat with 2 forks by crossing the forks and pulling the meat into small pieces from the butt. Alternately, you can chop the meat with a cleaver. Chop the reserved crispy bits and mix into the pulled pork. While the meat is still warm, mix with enough Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce to moisten and season the meat (about 3/4 cup). The recipe can be made in advance up to this point and reheated with about 1/4 cup additional sauce in a double boiler.
Serve hot, with the coleslaw on the side or serve sandwich-style (preferred) on a hamburger bun and top with coleslaw. Serve more sauce on the side, if desired.
North Carolina Coleslaw
Toss the sauce and cabbage together until well mixed and not quite wet. You may have sauce leftover. Refrigerate. Let sit for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.
Lexington-Style Vinegar Sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a large nonreactive bowl and let sit at least 10 minutes or almost indefinitely, covered in the refrigerator.
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