North Carolina Barbecue Sauce & Tacos

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Hey Dude,

Since North Carolina is basically your next door neighbor, I doubt I have to be the one to tell you that North Carolina barbecue rocks.

1. I love vinegar.
2. I love spicy food.
3. I love to eat pigs.

On a side note, I think it’s funny that the word “barbecue” to a North Carolinian means pulled (or chopped) pork and a spicy vinegar sauce. My homeboy Brotha SouL gave me a blank look when I talked about barbecue chicken, or barbecue ribs. To him, Barbecue is a noun meaning only pulled pork. I guess they call the other stuff “grilled” or something? I don’t know.

Anyway, I have only recently begun to enjoy the wonders of NC barbecue. My first exposure was when I made a sauce recipe from Amazing Ribs. I could practically drink the stuff. But the first time I tasted actual, authentic barbecue in NC was last summer. My life was changed.

Some time ago, my friend Steve Robinson posted an update on Facebook that he made an East Carolina sauce. I generally trust his palate (except for his McDonald’s habit!), so I asked him for his recipe. In fact, I’m pretty sure I texted you a screen shot of his “seat of the pants…ballpark” sauce recipe. Here goes:

  • 2/3 Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 White vinegar
  • A couple Tbsp. brownsugar
  • Some salt
  • A good tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • Crushed red peppers (he used a 12-pepper mix from his sister, I used crushed and fermented red peppers that I made)
  • Some coarse black pepper
  • A couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • A couple tablespoons of ketchup

I like mine with a lot of black pepper…it just smells and tastes awesome, especially with the vinegar. Anyway, I made two 16 oz. Mason jars a couple of months ago. Wonderful stuff. Oh, and it’s best if left overnight for the flavors to blend. And shake it up whenever you think of it.

Now, the tacos. The tacos are easy. Get some pork. Doesn’t really matter what kind, or how much. I put three pork chops in my crock pot, and poured the sauce over them. Cooked it on low all day. About 6 or 7 hours in, I pulled the pork out, shredded it with a couple forks, and then put it back in the crock pot.

When I was almost ready to eat, I made a simply pico de gallo with diced tomato, red onion, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. I poured some of the barbecue sauce over it and let it sit for about 10 minutes to soak up the flavor. Meanwhile, I warmed some flour tortillas in my cast iron skillet.

Once done with all of that, I removed the meat with a ladle with holes. After removing the meat, I further drained the pulled pork. (The reason for this is that you don’t want soggy tortillas!)

Anyway, I put the pork on the tortillas, threw on the pico, and a little bit of lettuce. Then I spooned a VERY small amount of more vinegar sauce on the top. It was AMAZING.

Next time, I’m going to try slaw instead of lettuce. But I don’t think I’ll change a thing about the meat or the sauce. And I’ll probably keep the pico.

jamey

from: Daniel Larkin
to: ”Jamey W. Bennett” 

I LOVE North Carolina BBQ.  I used to cook at a dive bar in Charlotte called The Penguin.  The place had three owners — a cook, a business man, and a maintenance guy — all with full sleeves of tattoos.

Anyway, the cook-owner got his start making BBQ, and he would still do all of our meats offsite with his secret recipe.  I also worked with an awesome Mexican dude named Manuel (Real name? Probably not.) and he’s the one who showed me how to make salsa.  Manuel would also bring his own corn tortillas into work, and we would deep fry them to make taco shells.  You already know what we filled them with!

Long story short, this is gonna fill a gap that was left in my belly after I quit The Penguin.

Vegetarian Chicken Soft Tacos [Bonus: Pork Tacos]

[Note: This is the post that planted the seed that led to Two Dudes Foods.]

From: Daniel Larkin
Date: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 7:56 PM
Subject:
Today I share the secret
To: “jamey w. bennett”

After years of blindly making this recipe, I finally measured the ingredients for my chicken soft tacos.  I figured you should be the first person I share the recipe with.  If anyone can give me constructive feedback on my taco recipe, it’s you – the taco guy.  I make these veggie-style, using Quorn Naked Cutlets.  I’ve never made them with real chicken, but if I had to, I would first try using left-over chicken (fully cooked) shredded as thinly as possible.

I chop the Naked Cutlets into thin strips, lay them flat, and chop again until the pieces resemble shredded chicken like you expect to see in Mexican restaurant.  If you can find the Naked Cutlets in Philly, I would recommend this as a meat-free meal.  I know you could use a little taco in your meat fasting days.

So here it goes.

  • 6 oz chicken (this translates into 3 Naked Cutlets) finely shredded as mentioned above.
  • 8 oz can of no salt added tomato sauce
  • 4 oz orange juice.  (I measure this in the empty 8 oz tomato sauce can)
  • 4 oz water
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Squirt of lemon or lime juice
  • Chopped cilantro

Jenny’s not a fan of overly overly-spicy foods, so these are super low on the heat scale.  But you can heat them up with cayenne and red pepper flakes, or by tossing a few Jalapenos in the marinade.

Marinate the chicken in all ingredients (except cilantro and lemon/lime juice) for at least 30 minutes.

Bring the mix to a boil, and simmer covered on low for 5 or 10 minutes.
Remove lid and simmer for another 15 minutes – until sauce has thickened or soaked into meat.

Toss in some chopped cilantro and squeeze in lemon/lime juice, and viola!

Let me know how it goes.  I would love the feedback.

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude,

I am eating the most amazing pulled pork tacos ever. I still haven’t made your faux chicken tacos, but you inspired this. I sauteed onions and jalapenos in olive oil, added precooked pulled pork and cilantro, then poured 100% mango-orange juice over it and cooked it until excess liquid was gone. Added to whole wheat tortillas (which I briefly browned in a skillet), added sour cream, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, and homemade salsa. INCREDIBLE!

Jamey