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 Carolina chopped pork question

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ScreamingChicken

  • Total Posts: 4710
  • Joined: 11/5/2004
  • Location: Stoughton, WI
Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 2:55 PM (permalink)
Over the weekend I smoked a pork sirloin roast to serve chopped in the Carolina style and as I was cutting it up (I don't own a cleaver so the "chopping" wasn't nearly as much fun) it occurred to me that I had no idea what the size of the pieces should be.  Is there a default size range that Carolina 'que joints seem to stick to?  Or is it a totally subjective thing?
 
Brad
 
#1
    rjb

    • Total Posts: 451
    • Joined: 12/15/2003
    • Location: Bronxville, NY
    Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 3:23 PM (permalink)
    In my (relatively limited) experience, Carolina bbq is chopped fairly fine -- 1/4" - 1/2" dice, though its obviously irregular.  Sort of in the neighborhood of commercial corned beef hash and much finer than Georgia pulled pork.
     
    #2
      jellybear

      • Total Posts: 1135
      • Joined: 10/15/2003
      • Location: surf city, NC
      Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 3:36 PM (permalink)
      Take two Chef's knifes and start chopping to the desired consisticy you like,If you chop it up too much you will have mush.
       
      #3
        Captain Morgan

        • Total Posts: 503
        • Joined: 12/13/2005
        • Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
        Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 5:19 PM (permalink)
        wow.

        There is no absolute answer here.  Some joints
        grind it into a hairy, dry hash, most just chunk
        it into small pieces.

        The more important question is, what is good to
        you?

        For bbq comps I pull the best pieces off by hand
        and put those on top of coarse chopped.  

        The finer it's chopped, the quicker it will dry out.

        Don't worry about trying to define NC bbq..it's too varied.
        Do what you like.

         
        #4
          Pocosin

          • Total Posts: 19
          • Joined: 10/7/2009
          Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 8:22 PM (permalink)
          As noted above, there is some variance in the coarseness of the chop from one place to another, but in general it's pretty fine, especially relative to the "pulled pork" that you find elsewhere.  My advice would be to err on the side of a fine chop- you don't want large pieces that are hard to balance on a fork with some slaw. 
           
          #5
            tcrouzer

            • Total Posts: 430
            • Joined: 5/26/2003
            • Location: Burlington, NC
            Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 9:05 PM (permalink)
            And, a somewhat finer chop (yes the 1/4" to 1/2" range is good) holds together more cohesively when mounded on a bun. This mound also serves as a barrier to "seepage" of the liquid held in the slaw. You ARE going to have slaw on your BBQ sandwich, aren't you?

            IMO, pulled pork belongs on a plate (usually paper) with slaw, baked beans, hush puppies, and a couple of slices of white bread - if you must. As for me, give me more hush puppies please!
             
            #6
              carolina bob

              • Total Posts: 3420
              • Joined: 1/1/2005
              • Location: Chicagoland
              Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 01/26/10 10:33 PM (permalink)
              Brad, I knew that you were going to find a good use for that sauce. So, how was it?
               
              #7
                chewingthefat

                • Total Posts: 6093
                • Joined: 11/22/2007
                • Location: Emmitsburg, Md.
                Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:08 PM (permalink)
                I think you need a different cut to chop, a Sirloin roast, usually doesn't have enough fat, a Butt, is a better chopped product, plenty of bark and not too much fat mixed in with the Vinegar sauce, makes a nice plate or sandwich, chopped up into dime to quarter size hunks, add the sauce as soon as chopped, or dry city.
                 
                #8
                  Pocosin

                  • Total Posts: 19
                  • Joined: 10/7/2009
                  Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:28 PM (permalink)
                  chewingthefat


                  I think you need a different cut to chop, a Sirloin roast, usually doesn't have enough fat, a Butt, is a better chopped product, plenty of bark and not too much fat mixed in with the Vinegar sauce, makes a nice plate or sandwich, chopped up into dime to quarter size hunks, add the sauce as soon as chopped, or dry city.


                  A picnic shoulder is a better choice than a Boston butt.  Shoulders are the traditional cut used in Lexington sytle barbecue, and although eastern style is whole hog(really just shoulders+hams), you can do good eastern style barbecue with just a shoulder.  Unlike a butt, a shoulder will have skin on it, which you can crisp and add in for a more traditional eastern-style product.  Eastern style shouldn't have any "bark" in it.
                   
                  #9
                    Play27

                    • Total Posts: 113
                    • Joined: 4/21/2009
                    • Location: Greensboro, NC
                    Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:45 PM (permalink)
                    Most places in the Piedmont, where we get mostly western style I suppose since none of it is whole hog, just grind the hell out of it. One of the many reasons I don't care for Carolina BBQ. In the places where they do it right, (Memphis for one), if they do chop it, it is by hand and fairly coarse. My favorite, TOPPS in Memphis. Above all, Boston Butt over a sirloin roast, shoulders over butts. I only do Butts because I can get more on my smoker and there is less bone waste.
                     
                    #10
                      ScreamingChicken

                      • Total Posts: 4710
                      • Joined: 11/5/2004
                      • Location: Stoughton, WI
                      Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:53 PM (permalink)
                      chewingthefat


                      I think you need a different cut to chop, a Sirloin roast, usually doesn't have enough fat, a Butt, is a better chopped product, plenty of bark and not too much fat mixed in with the Vinegar sauce, makes a nice plate or sandwich, chopped up into dime to quarter size hunks, add the sauce as soon as chopped, or dry city.


                      A butt or picnic was my first choice but the store didn't have any so I had to improvise.  At least I didn't have to try to get by with a loin!
                       


                       
                      nocarolina


                      Brad, I knew that you were going to find a good use for that sauce. So, how was it?


                      It was little hotter than I expected and my first sandwich was a little oversauced, so I was feeling the heat.  But it's definitely unlike the sauces usually found here and now that I've learned to use a little less it's pretty good.  Definitely vinegary, some heat, and maybe just a touch of sweetness.  Thanks again!
                       


                       
                      Brad
                       
                      #11
                        Pocosin

                        • Total Posts: 19
                        • Joined: 10/7/2009
                        Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:57 PM (permalink)
                        Play27


                        Most places in the Piedmont, where we get mostly western style I suppose since none of it is whole hog, just grind the hell out of it. One of the many reasons I don't care for Carolina BBQ. In the places where they do it right, (Memphis for one), if they do chop it, it is by hand and fairly coarse. My favorite, TOPPS in Memphis. Above all, Boston Butt over a sirloin roast, shoulders over butts. I only do Butts because I can get more on my smoker and there is less bone waste.


                        A lot(maybe most) of the Lexington style places will serve you sliced barbecue if you want that.
                         
                        #12
                          the grillman

                          • Total Posts: 624
                          • Joined: 6/27/2005
                          • Location: Saint Charles, MO
                          Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:58 PM (permalink)
                          Wow, that looks really good.

                          I'll agree with other posters that a butt or shoulder roast may be better, but you got along just fine with the sirloin roast. 

                          Pork loins always sound good, but they turn out much too dry for low and slow cooking.
                           
                          #13
                            Pocosin

                            • Total Posts: 19
                            • Joined: 10/7/2009
                            Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 12:59 PM (permalink)
                            Brad_Olson

                            A butt or picnic was my first choice but the store didn't have any so I had to improvise.  At least I didn't have to try to get by with a loin!


                            That's surprising, given that it was a Piggly Wiggly.  At least here in NC, Piggly Wiggly is by far the best place to go for large cuts of pork.  Shoulders and back quarters can be difficult or impossible to find at other stores, but I have never known the Pig to not have them.  They usually have just about every pig part imaginable in their meat case, even the heads.
                             
                            #14
                              ScreamingChicken

                              • Total Posts: 4710
                              • Joined: 11/5/2004
                              • Location: Stoughton, WI
                              Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 1:11 PM (permalink)
                              Although the Pigs up here aren't part of the same chain as the ones down south, the one I patronize usually does have a butt or 2 most of the time.  I was shopping on a Saturday morning so it's possible they'd sold out and hadn't cut any replacements yet, and sirloin roasts were also a featured sale item.

                              But a head would definitely be a special order!

                              Brad
                               
                              #15
                                kman160

                                • Total Posts: 160
                                • Joined: 12/8/2005
                                • Location: Syracuse, NY
                                Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 1:29 PM (permalink)
                                should clear up that A Boston Butt is really the shoulder
                                 
                                #16
                                  Pocosin

                                  • Total Posts: 19
                                  • Joined: 10/7/2009
                                  Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 1:38 PM (permalink)
                                  kman160


                                  should clear up that A Boston Butt is really the shoulder


                                  It's part of the shoulder- the upper part, usually sold without the rind.  A picnic or barbecue shoulder comprises the entire butt, as well as additional meat from further down the leg, and should have the skin/rind on.  A full shoulder is the whole leg, minus the shank and foot.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    carolina bob

                                    • Total Posts: 3420
                                    • Joined: 1/1/2005
                                    • Location: Chicagoland
                                    Re:Carolina chopped pork question Wed, 01/27/10 5:09 PM (permalink)
                                    Brad, it looks delicious and I wish that I was there to share it with you. In about three weeks I'll be down in NC's Piedmont region, where I'll be meeting up with fellow roadfooder Wabbit at the famed Stamey's in Greensboro. I'm looking forward to some good Tarheel 'que there. 
                                     
                                    #18
                                      caver

                                      • Total Posts: 104
                                      • Joined: 11/5/2004
                                      • Location: Murfreesboro, TN
                                      Re:Carolina chopped pork question Mon, 02/1/10 5:28 PM (permalink)
                                      I think pulling it and putting it on a bun is the only way to really do it right.  At the very least, only do a coarse chop like Brad Olsen posted above.

                                      When it's chopped to death it just changes the whole character.  It's like the stuff they used to give us in the school cafeteria, mush with sauce mixed in.  You get a lot more good porky flavor with big pieces and much more appealing texture.

                                      Slaw and/or sauce is completely optional.  Although some places leave too much moisture in the slaw, so it's better to get it on the side to be able to drain it if you don't know how theirs is before hand.  Vinegar slaw preferred over mayonnaise.
                                       
                                      #19
                                        riblet

                                        • Total Posts: 11
                                        • Joined: 1/18/2004
                                        • Location: Tallahassee, FL
                                        Re:Carolina chopped pork question Fri, 02/5/10 6:11 PM (permalink)
                                        I whole heartedly agree with the course chop.  Sonnys (the chain, not Mr. Tillman) grinds his to mush like most of them and calls it pulled.  Places like these who grind it to sawdust need to realize it does dry out and can take any quantity of sauce up to a gallon.  It absorbs it like a dry sponge.  So I guess you need to define pulled, picked, chipped or chopped. Some of us like to taste the meat first to see if it even needs sauce.  But the que pictured is perfect to me.  Smokey bark, pork and little bit a fat on one peice is heaven to me.   But places like this are rare. 
                                         
                                        I guess the fun of it is looking for it.
                                         
                                        #20
                                          Pocosin

                                          • Total Posts: 19
                                          • Joined: 10/7/2009
                                          Re:Carolina chopped pork question Sun, 02/7/10 12:44 PM (permalink)
                                          I prefer a fine chop for either style of NC barbecue, and especially so for eastern style.  The whole point of eastern style is getting a mix of flavors, and you get more of that with a fine chop. 
                                           
                                          #21
                                            Qaholic

                                            • Total Posts: 6
                                            • Joined: 5/15/2007
                                            • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
                                            Re:Carolina chopped pork question Tue, 02/9/10 11:35 AM (permalink)
                                            I think it depends on who makes it as to how they chop it. I'll have to say what you show in your Pix looks awesome to me. Good Job!!!
                                             
                                            #22
                                              swvadon

                                              • Total Posts: 36
                                              • Joined: 2/21/2010
                                              • Location: Abingdon, VA
                                              Re:Carolina chopped pork question Sun, 02/21/10 10:32 PM (permalink)
                                              The further east in NC you go, the more finely they chop it. you could start at Asheville, and actually find pulled pork with no chop. Sometimes you get a light chop. 

                                              By the time you get to Lexington, you get a medium chop, with the option of sliced. 

                                              Once you hit the Triangle (Raleigh area for you out of staters) nothing is allowed but a heavy chop. A heavy chop means that you won't find a strand of pork longer than about a 1/2". You basically pile all the pieces of pig on the counter and whale away at the pile for about two minutes with a couple of cleavers. From the Triangle east is where you find the most fanatical of barbecue people. Nothing but vinegar sauce, nothing but whole hog, nothing but a fine chop.

                                              The premise is that the pork should stand on its' own, but you add the vinegar sauce just for flavor. That good in theory, but unfortunately, some of the early places that were the best have now taken to virtually emulsifying their porkby chopping it forever and drowning it in vinegar with not even much red pepper flakes or anything else. They're just in it for the bucks, and not the craft. It's a shame...
                                               
                                              #23
                                                swvadon

                                                • Total Posts: 36
                                                • Joined: 2/21/2010
                                                • Location: Abingdon, VA
                                                Re:Carolina chopped pork question Sun, 02/21/10 10:44 PM (permalink)
                                                I got sidetracked, but I'll post my philosophy on barbecue. I'll try to hit all the important points, as my take is pretty different from almost any geographical region I've ever found.

                                                I want only pork barbecue. Whole hog. Pulled, and not chopped. I want vinegar, tomato, & honey or molasses in my sauce. The sauce only goes on after the sandwich is at the table. Coleslaw, mayo based, is a must. I want some bark, but not a lot. Cooked over wood is the preference, but over gas is okay, too. I'm a barbecue freak, but not a fanatic about that. I want hush puppies - NO onions in the batter! - as a side. If it's dinner, then greens are good, too. Otherwise, nothing else but sweet tea. A sandwich w/slaw, six hush puppies, and a quart of sweet tea makes me a happy man.

                                                When I first moved to Raleigh (and was a young man), I ate lunch at the same barbecue joint & had the same meal - barbecue sandwich w/slaw & hush puppies on the side with sweet tea - for my workday lunch for fifteen months in a row. Honest, five days a week, the same meal every day, for fifteen months. Sandwich w/slaw, hush puppies & sweet tea. NEVER anything else. Not one single day of Wendy's or BK or McDonalds or even Subway.

                                                Believe me when I say - I love barbecue.
                                                 
                                                #24
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