Plenty of kala jeera, but not enough barbecue sauce.
I’d come to appreciate the style at a BBQ place called Bullock’s in Durham, North Carolina while living in the area. It was also at Bullock’s where I had the epiphany that heavily-sweetened iced tea perfectly matched the tart vinegar sauce on the pulled pork. The less-sweet tea of my Kansas City youth made sense as well: not as much vinegar in the sauce there, so it doesn't need sweetness to balance the meal.
When I was leaving North Carolina, I pulled up to Bullock’s, ate my last pulled pork and hush puppies plate, and bought a liter of barbecue sauce on the way out the door. I’d brought my own bottle. I doused eggs with it, dashed it over collards and kale, drizzled some over fish, and, naturally, paired it with slow-cooked pork.
This isn’t Bullock’s recipe (I didn’t even bother asking), but it does put me solidly in a North Carolina state of mind. It's fair to say I haven't been without it for 15 years.
This stuff’s been known to eat through metal caps, so I store it in glass bottles with plastic screw-on caps. Some refrigerate it, but I hardly see the point. Mine stays in the cabinet where I can grab a bottle without rummaging around.
Which vinegar to use? Plain ol' grocery store distilled white is fine. Better still, use cider vinegar. That's the stuff I like. You can certainly use rice wine vinegar, but I wouldn’t waste the money on champagne vinegar. Balsamic is the wrong flavor entirely. Might be good in some other BBQ sauce. Not this one.
North Carolina Barbecue Sauce
4 cups/1 liter vinegar, divided (see below)
4 Tbl/60ml New Mexico chile, powdered
2 Tbl/30ml salt
2 Tbl/30ml black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbl/15ml sugar
For a little over a liter/quart of this thin, piquant sauce, combine all the spices with 3c/750ml vinegar in a large measuring cup, jar, or pitcher. Whisk thoroughly. Before it has a chance to settle out, pour through a funnel into a clean glass bottle. Add the remaining cup/250ml of vinegar to the mixing container, swirl it around to get any spices that might be adhering to the sides, then quickly pour it into the bottle. Cap and set aside to cure for a few days (though, in a pinch, you could use it right away).