Earlier this year, S and I returned to our alma mater for our 5th year college reunion. Even though we love California, we’ve also really missed Duke, Durham, and the South in general. Needless to say, we planned a bunch of good ol’ Southern meals, including barbecue.
If you’ve ever talked to S or me in person, one of us has probably given you a long spiel on all the different styles and varieties of barbecue across the country. (Sorry, if you’ve heard this speech several times; we get really excited about it.) I’ll spare you the long version and simply say that North Carolinian barbecue is quite different from Texas or Kansas City or Memphis – in NC, it’s all about the hog. There are even two distinct styles within North Carolina – Eastern and Western. Eastern style is chopped smoked whole hog, served with a vinegar and pepper barbecue sauce. Western, or Lexington style, is smoked pork shoulder, either sliced or chopped, and served with a tomato and vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area where we used to live was a crossroad of sorts, and plenty of restaurants served both styles of NC barbecue. On our trip, we visited one of the area’s most famous barbecue joints, The Pit BBQ. There are locations in both Raleigh and Durham (recently opened), and we actually hit up both of them because it was so good!
The Pit features both Eastern chopped barbecue and Lexington pulled pork. On our first visit, we decided to go with their signature, the Eastern chopped barbecue.
The pork was SO GOOD. It’s not as smoky as, say, Texas barbecue – but the meat is tender, with just enough smokiness, mixed with vinegar and pepper flakes to provide a mildly spicy and tangy flavor. You really can’t find that vinegar-pepper barbecue sauce anywhere else.