NC Style Venison Barbecue
If you’ve ever spent much time in North Carolina, you’ll know that barbecue is a religion, complete with its own ketchup or vinegar-based sects and devotees. In the Eastern part of the state, the recipe is deceptively simple: take a whole hog and pit-smoke it over hickory wood until it’s crispy on the outside and unbelievably tender on the inside, turning and mopping it occasionally with a special blend of spices and vinegar. The “pit masters” in charge of transforming meat into magic are fiercely proud of their labor of love- many source and chop their own wood or forego sleeping entirely to make sure the barbecue has optimal conditions at all times.But if tending to a fire pit for days on end isn’t your idea of a good time, the recipe below is an easy way to replicate that smokey, juicy, perfect bite of food, and use a source of meat with a much lower environmental impact. Served up on a bun with a basket of hushpuppies and some coleslaw, this venison barbecue transports me to the red and white checkered vinyl tablecloths of the many barbecue shacks my parents took us to on the way back from the beach.
- 2-3 lb venison roast we used a shoulder but anything with lots of connective tissue will be good
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- salt or soy sauce
- 1-2 smoked hot peppers
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp dried chili flakes
- pinch of salt and pepper
- In a skillet with about 1 Tbsp butter, sear the roast over medium-high heat so it has a deep brown crust on all sides. Don’t worry if your venison cut has lots of nooks and crannies that don’t brown evenly, the most important part is just adding some texture to our final product.
- Place the roast in the bottom of a slow cooker or dutch oven and cover with the butter, salt or soy sauce, and smoked hot peppers. You can also use smoked paprika or a dash of liquid smoke in a pinch.
- Pour in the apple cider vinegar and water and cook on low for 6-8 hours, turning occasionally, until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork.
- Put the roast in a separate bowl. Take any bones out of the meat and shred into small pieces with two forks. Pour in about half of the cooking liquid until the meat is saturated but there is no liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
- In a separate bowl or jar, mix together the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili flakes, and salt and pepper. You can use this right away but it will be even better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld together.
- You can eat this barbecue on its own but I highly recommend slapping it on a bun with some coleslaw and a generous spoonful of sauce drizzled over top. Enjoy!