Two Stops on the North Carolina Barbecue Trail

With the North Carolina State Fair going on this week, I thought I’d write about North Carolina food.  I recently had barbecue at two really great restaurants on the North Carolina Barbecue Trail.  The North Carolina Barbecue Society is a group that claims that North Carolina originated barbecue.  It has published a map of restaurants that serve barbecue, the North Carolina Barbecue Trail.  I have eaten a lot of barbecue in North Carolina, but I had never been to any of the places on this list.  Until now.  In North Carolina, barbecue means pulled pork barbecue (although you see it served chopped or sliced too).  For those who don’t know, North Carolina has two types of barbecue based on the sauce, eastern and western.  Eastern is made with a vinegar-based sauce and western is made with a tomato-based sauce.  This is how it’s always been defined to me.  However, I’ve been reading about a third kind, Lexington-style, made with ketchup.  I prefer eastern-style barbecue.  I don’t think I’ve had it in the western part of the state.  I have eaten it in Lexington, NC, too.  (South Carolina has another option, mustard sauce, that is also delicious.)

Hursey’s Barbecue in Burlington, NC

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OK, I have a new favorite barbecue and it is Hursey’s.  They cook it perfectly–just the way I like it.  Hursey’s has a barbecue sauce that you can add to the barbecue.  I didn’t because it was delicious just the way it was cooked.  But the sauce is also good, and I bought some to take home.  The menu at Hursey’s is definitely for a carnivore–they don’t have many sides typical of barbecue restaurants (so vegetarians beware).  However, if you eat meat, this is the place for you.  Of course, I got barbecue, but the broasted chicken sounded intriguing.  It is fried chicken that local barbecue guru Bob Garner says is cooked in a pressure cooker so it’s not too greasy.  The night I dined here they had a special, fried corn.  I tried it, not knowing what to expect.  It was on the cob and so crispy and delicious.  They need to add it to the menu.

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Carolina Bar-B-Q in Statesville, NC

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The barbecue at Carolina Bar-B-Q is made from pork shoulder, not pork butt.  It is served without seasoning/sauce and you add what you like–eastern or western style.  For vegetarians, they have a vegetable plate where you can choose sides from a long list.  To me, these sides really stand out at Carolina Bar-B-Q.  They are fried to order in clean oil, perfectly crispy, not greasy, and very tasty.  This is the first time I’ve seen fried yellow squash, and it was great.  Normally, I don’t eat fried food, but this could make me a convert.

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