If I had to choose my favorite version of the pulled pork sandwich, it would definitely be the North Carolina version. Lexington-style boasts simply seasoned and smokey pork, topped with a sweet and spicy, yet vinegary tomato bbq sauce, that really cuts through the richness of the meat, while uplifting the flavor of the pork. It's my fave, but I wanted one more element to take it over the top... Crispy Bacon Aioli! A slight spread of this delicious bacon-y mayo, along with some crisp, sweet and spicy pickles and ZANG! This pork sandwich packs a PUNCH of flavor!!
Let's rub some pork:
- 1 ½ Tbls paprika
- 1 ½ Tbls brown sugar
- 1 Tbls kosher salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 ½ tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp chipotle powder (optional), or cayenne
- 1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 - 6 lb bone-in skinless pork shoulder (I used the blade roast)
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Generously rub the pork with the spice mixture, and let chill in fridge for an hour or a few. Reserve some of the rub to add to the shredded pork when it's ready.
Meanwhile, make the North Carolina Sauce:
- 1 ½ cups ketchup (I use Heinz)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar (again Heinz)
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbls brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 - 1 ½ tsp red chili flakes
In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, whisk ingredient together and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 min. until slightly thick (I actually didn't cook the sauce, I just whisked until combined, and let chill or rest for at least an hour).
Next make the Crispy Bacon Aioli:
- ½ cup prepared mayo
- 1 Tbls whole grain mustard
- 4 thick-cut slices of perfectly cooked Applewood bacon, roughly chopped (You don't want extra crispy bacon)
- salt and pepper
- a dash of vinegar or lemon juice
Place bacon, mayo and mustard in a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with some pepper and taste for salt. Add a dash of cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice to taste, and salt if necessary.
Pork Injection (Optional):
- 1 cup organic apple juice
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp of reserved rub
Whisk together the ingredient until salt is dissolved, and place in injector. Reserve some to a spray bottle, to mist the pork shoulder as it smokes.
Let's SMOKE SOME PORK!!
- Reserved rubbed pork shoulder
- reserved pork injection (optional)
Set your smoker, or charcoal grill, or grill with smoker box, set to smoke at 225º - 250º.
While the smoker gets set, I inject my pork in various spots, along the bone line, with my pork injection. Let rest until you are ready to smoke.
Smoke the pork until the internal temp is 190º - 195º. I smoked my pork for about 3 - 4 hours, spritzing every hour (with the injector liquid), until I achieve the color I want, and then I cover it and bake it in a 225º oven until it's done, usually another 3-4 hours. I sometimes wrap it in foil and continue to cook on my smoker until it's done.
Let pork rest, covered for about 30 min. Reserve the juices in a separate container, remove the bone and shred the pork by hand, chopping up any chunks that may not shred easily. Season with salt and more of the rub, add some reserved juices and mix the shreds up. Check for seasoning, cover and keep warm.
Time to make some Lexington Pulled Pork Sandwiches!
- reserved Lexington Pulled Pork
- 8 good quality hamburger buns, split and buttered
- reserved North Carolina Sauce
- sweet and spicy pickles
- reserved Crispy Bacon Aioli
Toast the buttered buns, buttered-side down in a medium-hot skillet until golden brown. Top the bottom bun with a nice helping of shredded pork, and drizzle on the North Carolina Sauce. Place some sliced sweet pickles on top of the pork, slather some bacon mayo on the top bun and place on top! Serve with some cole slaw and baked beans. SOOOOO good.