BBQ is the perfect summertime meal, but not everyone has time to smoke a whole hog. With an Instant Pot, a bread machine, and a food processor, you can make authentic Lexington-style BBQ sandwiches from the comfort of your own air-conditioned kitchen in a few hours.
North Carolina barbecue (NC BBQ) is known for its vinegar-based sauces served over shredded pork. Tomatoes are mostly shunned and a sugary sauce from the grocery store shelf is completely out of the question. Purists will argue that even NC BBQ has two types: Eastern and Lexington-style. Eastern NC BBQ should involve roasting the entire pig and includes no ketchup or tomato product of any kind. Lexington-style is just the best part of the pig - the shoulder - and allows for a little ketchup in the sauce. For either style, the pork is usually cooked to a point of tenderness so that the meat can be “pulled” apart. Both styles are generally served as a “plate” (large) or “tray” (extra large) made up of a pile of meat with side items of coleslaw and hush puppies or as a sandwich with coleslaw. The slaw rules are more forgiving than the meat rules, but apple cider vinegar is a key ingredient. Lexington-style “red slaw” uses ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
If you want to make this version on a school night, feel free to use store-bought hamburger buns or coleslaw with a dash of vinegar. Whitebread store-bought hamburger buns are actually more authentic. But don’t pass up the sauce in this recipe.
Main Course - the meat!
2 to 3 pound pork shoulder - Boston butt for company; roast if you are on a budget. (Today I used a 2.5 pound pork roast blade)
3 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp large crystal salt
Cooking liquid (also the base for the sauce)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup of water or chicken stock
2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
Additional Sauce Ingredients
¼ cup ketchup
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ head cabbage (green or red or a combination)
½ cup carrots
1½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup mustard
½ Tbsp celery seed
½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
⅛ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ¼ cup warmed milk (no hotter than 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp butter (extra butter to melt and brush on the buns as they go in the oven - optional)
¾ tsp salt
3 ¾ cups of bread flour or all purpose flour
Up to ¼ cup of sugar (optional)
1 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
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Cut the roast into about 4 large pieces
Mix the paprika, brown sugar, garlic salt, dry mustard, and large crystal salt in a small bowl and rub over the meat. Rub a little oil on each piece to help it stick if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.
Put all of the ingredients for the buns in the bread machine. And select the dough setting that takes 90 minutes and includes 2 rises. The third rise will take place before you bake them.
Make the coleslaw. Chop the cabbage and carrots in the food processor. Stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, celery seed, vinegar, pepper and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss. Cover and refrigerate.
Set the Instant Pot on sauté. Once it gets hot, pour about 2 Tbsp of oil in the insert and brown the meat on all sides.
Turn off the Instant Pot and add the water or chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, and liquid smoke. Use the manual setting to have the Instant Pot pressure cook the meat for 40 minutes.
Take a break while you wait for the small appliances to do the work.
When the bread machine is finished, roll the dough out on a floured surface. Cut or pull the dough into approximately 3 ½ inch “rounds” for full-sized sandwiches or 1 ½ inch “rounds” for sliders. Cover and allow to rise again for up to an hour.
Bake the buns at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until brown on top.
Allow the Instant pot to release the pressure for at least 15 minutes after cooking. Then shred the meat in the pot. Either use 2 forks for a hand mixer to shred the meat. Put the shredded meat in a serving bowl.
Use the liquid in the Instant Pot as the base for the sauce. Scrap any meat pieces from the bottom. Mix in the ketchup and the red pepper sauce. Put the sauce in a squirt bottle or a bowl.
Assemble the sandwiches and serve.
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