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Rub for Carolina Style Pork BBQ

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I'm switching things up for New Years - making pulled pork BBQ instead of pork & saurkraut. Those who will be partaking prefer the Lexington NC style BBQ.

Rub recipes are usually pretty simple, but I'm just curious what all you chow-hounders use with good results. Also, I'd like to hear when you apply the rub (night before, 3 days before, right before smoking, etc)

So, bring on the rub!

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  1. Anxious for the replies. I too am doing pork and would like to change things up a bit.

    1. Well ,like you said,simple is pretty good.

      The accent is usually more on the vinegar/salt/hot pepper sauce sprinkled liberally on the cooked pork.

      Most rubs would be a balance of salt/sweet/and a little back heat.

      Some folks might add a little garlic/onion powder,or a little chile powder.

      A few hrs ahead,or overnight,will give you about all the result you will get.

      Tom

      Hope this helps a little.

      1. If you are attempting Lexington style remember they only use a shoulder. You made no mention of how you intend to cook the shoulder but it needs to be cooked with wood, slowly, 225 - 250 range, for 10 plus hours.
        I find complicated rubs unnecessary. When I cook a shoulder, I now use some Lawry's seasoned salt, maybe some Tony Cachere's, some Nature Seasoning and maybe some Cavenders Greek seasoning, and black pepper. I now have come full circle, I used to make complex rubs but no more.
        I season the meat, wrap it in saran type wrap and hold it 24 hours in the 'fridge.
        It is sauced only on the table.
        Hey, I am no expert but I live less than an hour from Lexington, NC and have eaten my share.
        Maybe someone with more knowledge of Lex. style will chime in but I think they are minimalists when it comes to rubs. I have never tasted anyones bbq in Lexington that tasted like a 12 to 20 ingredient rub.
        I may have a recipe for Lexington style sauce somewhere, I will look for it.

        1. chalk me up for one who really thinks a good rub goes a long way - especially with butt for pulled pork. (wow, that sounded wrong somehow).

          Make it peppery, with as TomFL mentioned. While some folks think only S&P is traditional (may be true) the vast majority of folks will appreciate some rub, which makes bark. And bark makes for great pulled pork.

          However, I don't rub beforehand. I usually just apply the rub as the coals get ready... about 30 minutes prior to smoking.

          I like making rubs, so I usually use a combo of dried chiles, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, oregano, coriander, cumin, mustard powder, fresh ground pepper, salt and brown or turbinado sugar. To make it easier, use paprika and a smidgeon of cayenne instead of the dried chiles I use.

          Butts are among the easiest thing to smoke. Good luck and have fun.
          **********
          on edit, forgot to mention a lot depends on how you plan to sauce it. Do you want to use a traditional lex sauce (cider vinegar-chile, etc) or a more traditional tomato based sauce)? Are you serving on the side or mixing it in as you pull?

          1. I used to use a rub from Jamison & Jamison's book, "Smoke & Spice", but lately I've simplified it a lot with just a Dalmatian rub...salt and pepper. Sometimes I'll add brown sugar for more bark (pun unintended). I like to let the flavor of the pork shine without a lot of other seasonings.

            I rub up the butt the night before, and pop it into the freezer for an hour or so, while I light the lump and get the rig up to temperature.

            1. Thanks for all the tips. Sounds like a little more info would be helpful.
              Yes - the last time I smoked a pork shoulder(butt) and let it go for 9 or 10 hours. I plan to use wood chunks mixed with lump charcoal, shooting for a temp of around 250 - lower if possible.
              Also, I'm planning on the vinegar based sauce - certainly nothing with tomatoes. My wife makes a molasis based sauce (also no maters) sometimes as well, and that goes great with anything smokey. That will serve as a condiment for those who don't like the vinager based sauce. Now that I think about it, it might be fun to have several sauce varieties on the table.

              So, it looks like there are differing opinions on when to apply the rub. I do like the bark, so perhaps I'll shoot for day before smoking.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GDSinPA

                fwiw, the bark is far more dependent on what is in the rub than when you apply it.

              2. I'd be surprised to hear that the good ole boys in Lexington put more than the basics on those pork shoulders. They just ain't into fancy-dancy but Lexington's still as good as it gets.

                When I do pork shoulder, I put the meat in a plastic bag with a couple of cups of Crystal Hot Sauce - Ingredients: aged cayenne peppers, vinegar, salt - nothing more and let it marinate overnight. Smoke.
                Serve with a vinegar-based sauce. A sweet ketchup-y one for the non-southerners who don't know any better.

                I would love to have Lexington's BBQ sauce recipe.