When you eat barbeque in the Carolinas, you get a super soft bun loaded up with a big heap of pulled pork (drenched in mop) and topped with a mound of coleslaw. And not your bright green supermarket slaw, either. This is slaw for barbeque, and instead some undefined might-be-mayo creamy white stuff, the dressing is always based on mustard. So you get the sweet pork, the sour of the vinegar in the mop, and then the cool crunch of slaw and the tang of bright mustard to round things out. The combination is magical, and probably the main reason that in those parts the word “barbeque” means this dish, period. Why would you cook anything else?
However, when you are feeding barbeque newbies (something that occurs with distressing regularity here in the Great White North) you will find that there are a not-insigificant numbers of people who – for lack of a better word – freak when you even mention the idea of putting coleslaw onto a hot and tender pork sandwich. Being a good host, you don’t really want to force your guests to eat something, but you also want to give them the full flavour experience. What to do?
You make a mustard-based stand-alone sauce for serving, that is what you do. You can squirt it on each sandwich as you assemble them, or you can put it on the table in a squeeze bottle for the folks to apply on their own, or you can do both. It’s easy, it works, and you can even use it to give people the option of cole slaw or not. Keep reading!
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To make a real Carolina style mustard sauce:
250 ml (1 cup) of apple juice
125 ml (1/2 cup) of good cider vinegar
125 ml (1/2 cup) of yellow mustard (see note below)
125 ml (1/2 cup) of brown sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) of bourbon
60 ml (1/4) cup maple syrup
1 small white onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
A Note About The Mustard: While you would probably never purposely eat it otherwise, what you want to use here is the nasty bright yellow “kid mustard” that small children slather on hot dogs. Really.
Once you have all of your ingredients together, the sauce itself is dead easy. Dump all of the ingredients except for the onion and the garlic into a pot and whisk until everything is generally combined. Then add the onion and garlic, turn on the heat and simmer at medium for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and don’t let it boil – knock the heat down a bit if you have to. Let it cool to room temperature and then liquify the onion and garlic in a blender or food processor. Pour it through a strainer into squeeze bottles and you are ready to go. Like all sauces with this much vinegar on board, it will stay good in the fridge for pretty much forever.
You will get just under two full squeeze bottles, which is good because I am willing to bet you use a lot of this. It’s addictive. And like the pulling sauce, this scales pretty much infinitely.
Another Quick Note On Barbeque Tradition: If you want to avoid the “oh my god you’re putting coleslaw on pork” freak-outs but still want to give people the option of eating barbeque the True And Correct way, do this: Put half of your serving sauce in a squeeze bottle to mollify the squeamish, and take the rest and mix it in to your favourite creamy coleslaw recipe. Then you can offer it up either way. You get to be a good host and keep your new-found barbeque roots intact. Call it hospitality.
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