A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate the end of a very long phase of a project at work I decided to tackle the enormous job of cooking for nearly 40 ravenous Road Warriors who have been traveling to the beautiful state of North Carolina almost weekly since the middle of February! These awesome folks have come from places like Starkville, MS (don’t pick flowers there! Take it from Johnny Cash!), Boston Massachusetts, Warwick, Quebec and Kentville, Nova Scotia! We typically have lunch catered in from a local provider, but a few weeks ago someone mentioned that we have never served them our famous Eastern Carolina-Style Barbecue – that just didn’t seem right! So to right that injustice I set about planning and coordinating a barbecue feast for the whole group.  Before this, the largest group I had cooked for was about 20 at a church gathering – and that was just pulled pork. This time I wanted to go the whole nine-yards and show them how it’s done right.

The menu consisted of Sweet Tea (made by my beautiful bride of Carolina heritage!), creamy cole slaw, potato salad, barbecue beans, tons o’pulled pork and everyone’s favorite – dessert was brownies.  Now someone DID mention that I could go to the supermarket deli and buy the cole slaw and potato salad, in fact, several people offered recommendations on local establishments that would provide the whole affair! But that just didn’t seem like the Chowbelly thing to do! 

After preparing my shopping list I made a pass through the local co-op and was able to get everything I needed. It’s funny how you can do that when using natural and fresh ingredients!  When I got home I got down to it and started the preparations three days early.  Quality takes patience you know!  Rachel’s Mom stopped by and said “Oh Lord, that boy has lost his mind! He’s got whole, raw beans soaking!” Oh ye of little faith!


I started this process by rinsing off the 30-pounds of the finest looking pork butts you ever did see! Then I stacked them up in my counter-top roaster’s pan covered with a salty brine. That went into the beer ‘fridge out in the garage and soaked overnight. The following day I came back, dried those butts right off and started the rub-n-marinade process, then wrapped tightly and back in the ‘fridge they went for another day. Then I set to work on some of the other dishes. I rinsed off the pinto beans and picked through to remove the bad ones and the stones, then set them to soaking right in the slow-cooker crocks that they would eventually be cooked in. Next up, the Cuisinart made quick work of three heads of cabbage. I loaded all that into a tub, covered it and set it out in the beer ‘fridge too. Good enough for Day Two! The following day I started roasting the pork butts, loaded up the slow-cookers with the barbecue bean ingredients, made the slaw dressing and set it to rest back in the ‘fridge, mixed up the potato salad ingredients and set it to rest back in the fridge, and started baking brownies!

The morning of the luncheon I got up about 5am and started assembling everything, checking the pork butts, sampling the beans and packing up the car. Still, I didnt make it into the office much before lunchtime! An enterprising member of our team ran across the highway to get some crushed ice for the Sweet Tea and then helped by frosting the brownies before anyone got to them! Thanks Terry!

A final big thanks go to my beautiful bride, Rachel, who lent a hand whenever I needed it AND had to deal with a less than spotless kitchen that I left behind!

Below are the recipes I made adjusted down to normal proportions.

How a Boy From Detroit Does Pig!
48 Hours Before:
Inject brine into pork butt (Brine: ½ C. Salt in 1 Gal Water)
24 Hours Before:
 Step 1 – Rub with plain ol’ mustard
 Step 2 – Cover with Rub Spices
              Rub Spices:
                        2 ½  Tbs Chili Powder
                        2 Tbs Cumin
                        1 Tbs Coriander
                        1 Tbs Kosher Salt
                        ½ Tbs Paprika
                        1 Tbs Dark Brown Sugar
                        1 Tbs Black Pepper
                        1 Tbs Cayenne
 Step 3 – Give him a shot in the butt! (cajun injector)
              3 Tbs Brown Sugar
              3 C. Cider Vinegar
              1 ½ C. Water
Around 6pm the day before eatin’
 Place butt on a rack in the roaster at 200 degrees – I use a regular countertop roaster
 Baste hourly for 19-20 hours
            Bastin juice
            3 Tbs Brown Sugar
            3 Tbs Black Pepper
            2 Tbs Red Pepper Flakes
            3 C. Cider Vinegar
            1 ½ C. Water
When sufficiently roasted, spread some aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Lift the butt out using the rack, slide the butt off onto the foil and wrap tight.  Let stand 15 minutes to let the juices seep back into the meat.
 FINALLY! Unwrap and with a couple of forks, shred the meat into whatever size chunks you like! Toss on a little more bastin sauce, scoop some up, throw it on an onion roll with some cole slaw and you will go to HogHeaven!!

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Beans
4 slices bacon, diced (omit if desired)
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbs minced garlic
2 tsps fresh thyme
1 pound pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
1 C. brewed coffee
1/2 C. Barbecue Sauce (I used KC Masterpiece, but whatever you like best is fine)
1/4 C. plus 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs whole-grain brown mustard
1 tbs molasses
1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
8 C. water
2 Tsp salt
Soak the beans in a large pot overnight.

In a heavy skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until rendered and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Remove from skillet and move to slow-cooker crock. Add the beans, coffee, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, molasses, hot sauce, and pepper and stir to combine well. Add the water and salt. Cover the crock and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours stirring occasionally until beans are tender.

Creamy Cole Slaw
1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
2 large carrots, finely shredded
3/4 C. mayonnaise
2 Tbs sour cream
2 Tbs minced sweet onion
2 Tbs common white sugar
2 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs dry mustard
2 Tsp celery salt
Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper

Mix the cabbage and carrots in a good size tub – if you want to do this the day before you might want to squeeze some lemon juice over the mixture to keep it fresh, seal it tightly and refrigerate it. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat and take a little bite – add more salt, pepper, or sugar if you like.

Potato Salad
5 good sized Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1″ cubes
5 Tbs pickle juice
3 Tbs chopped bread-and-butter pickles
1 small sweet-onion, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
1/2 C. mayonnaise
2 Tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper

Wash the potatoes with a vegetable brush. Chop them into 1″ cubes. Place potatoes in a salted pot of boiling water. Simmer until almost soft – they will continue to cook a little bit after removed from the pot. Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine the pickle juice, the pickles, onions, celery, and hard boiled egg if you like. Fold in the mayonnaise, adding the mustard to combine. Mix the dressing with the potatoes and taste it again, salt and pepper to make it taste the way you remember Momma made it!