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The Carolinas: Porky pulpit of ‘cue

“The Carolinas are all about the pig,” says North Carolina native, Elizabeth Karmel, co-owner of Carolina Cue To-Go. “There are a lot of nuances just within North Carolina. You have Eastern and Western styles.” Eastern-style embraces whole-hog cooking and a minimalist approach to sauce — just vinegar and pepper.

Karmel grew up eating Western-style cue, which means shoulder, ribs, and butt dressed in a tangy, slightly sweet sauce. “Western-style sauce is more complex,” she says. “It’s usually made with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, pepper, two or three kinds of sugar.”

At Carolina Cue To-Go, Karmel has married her favorite aspects of each style, creating a unique Carolina cue mash-up that consists of whole hog that is slow smoked over hickory wood, then hand pulled, chopped, and topped with a Western-style, red vinegar sauce made from apple-cider vinegar, three types of peppers, dark brown sugar & a touch of ketchup. When you cross the border to South Carolina, pig still reigns supreme, but it’s doused in a strong, thick, mustard-based sauce that often includes brown sugar and vinegar.