Pulled pork is an Eastern North Carolina specialty, where my mom is from. When we would visit my grandmother over by the coast, we’d always pick up some roadside barbecue, which in that area of the state always means pulled pork and usually means a vinegar-based sauce.
It’s simple, it’s scrumptious, it’s decidedly Southern. And the N.C. version is cooked so long it falls off the bone. We shred it and serve it on hamburger buns. It just feels like home to me.
The real-deal guys in the pit go slow and low for hours upon hours – often overnight. You and me, we gotta find another way.
I gotta say, this 3-ingredient homemade version holds up! It’s amazing how simple and how hands-off this meal is, yet how delicious and tender and juicy and flavorful the pork comes out. I do use BBQ sauce here – which would be frowned upon in the Eastern part of the state – because it brings a ton of flavor and extra moisture to the pork after it’s cooked and so completely tender.
And the pork in this recipe? It’s pork tenderloin. It’s light, it’s lean, it’s not full of fatty spots that are gonna get in the way of loving on your pulled pork sandwich. It’s also not gonna leave you with a lead ball in your stomach when you’ve finished your meal. And gone back for seconds. And sneaked an extra forkful while you clean dishes.
The other sneaky thing about this dish is using root beer. Now, soda may not be the healthiest option – and it’s certainly a departure from what you usually see here on this blog – but I gotta say, I don’t even feel bad about it. It just works and I go with it. I tend to be a little more forgiving with traditional dishes that have been passed down. Don’t mess too much with a good thing, right?
You can serve this pulled pork as a sandwich for dinner – one of our favorites – or you can pile it onto little sliders for finger foods at a party. They are such a hit!
Be sure to make some of my most favorite no-mayo coleslaw to go with this. It’s vinegar-based and the perfect tangy-sweet accompaniment to this pork. Plus, it’s the traditional Eastern North Carolina way to go.
Welcome to the South, y’all! I think you’re gonna love it.