Friday, February 8, 2013

The Holy Grail of Barbecue

There's Memphis barbecue, East Tennessee barbecue, and Texas brisket.  There's red sauce, white sauce, and no sauce.  There's pork, beef, turkey, and chicken.  Everyone seems to have a version that is "the best."

But for those of us privileged to have lived in North Alabama, there are only three kids of barbecue - Big Bob Gibson's, Whitt's, and sad imitations.

My personal favorite is Whitt's.  I could probably count on one hand the number of foods in the world that I would prefer over a Whitt's barbecue sandwich.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Although you can add either a mayonnaise-based sauce or a vinegar-based sauce to Whitt's BBQ, it's not necessary at all.  The flavor is cooked right into the meat.  Every single bite is delicious, not just the outside skin or the part doused in sauce (like some other places I've been...).  Most people (apart from my husband) like to also put vinegar slaw on their Whitt's sandwich.  (I know that doesn't sound good at all.  Just trust me.  It's amazing.)

This week, we added US geography back into our homeschool world.  The reasons why it left and the reasons it returned are for another post, but suffice it to say, I needed to bring a little fun back.  Instead of following a format that had gotten us bogged down before, I decided we would go in alphabetical order.  (Mostly to help us learn this song.  Sing with me now, HJHS chorus students of the mid-80s.)

Up first: Alabama!
One of the parts we enjoyed most when we studied world geography last year was trying foods from the different countries we studied.  So I decided to bring that back, too.  The curriculum we are loosely following has recipes for many of the states, and the ones for Alabama were Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches and Peach Cobbler.  (There was no reference given for either recipe, but they both came from the curriculum that can be found at this link.)  The peach cobbler was OK, but the texture wasn't quite right somehow.  I should have just stuck with the Southern Living recipe for that one.

Not knowing what to expect, I made the BBQ recipe, and to my great surprise, it tasted a lot like Whitt's!!  (Note to self: next time add vinegar slaw to the finished sandwich.  That was definitely a missing ingredient.)  I think I added a bit too much brown sugar (a little more than the recipe called for).  Next time, I'll use a bit less sugar and perhaps a bit more vinegar.  But even as it was, I thought it was pretty close.

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

1.5 lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 T brown sugar
2 t kosher salt
3/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 t ground red pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t garlic powder
Hamburger buns

Combine all ingredients (except pork loin - and buns, of course) in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add pork to pan.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 1 hour or until tender.  Remove pork from cooking liquid and shred using 2 forks.  Place pork in serving dish and pour remaining sauce over pork. 

Note: I combined all ingredients except for the pork in a bowl, placed pork loin in a crock pot, and then poured the sauce over the pork.  Then I cooked it on low for about 7-8 hours.  Delicious, and super easy!

Now, if you're expecting a dead ringer for Whitt's, you're going to be disappointed.  But it's the closest thing I've tasted outside of Morgan and Limestone counties.  Let me know what you think!

This post may be linked up to one or more of the following blog parties.  Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family Friday: 5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary, Pieces of Amy Other days: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home


  1. Whitts is my favorite too. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  2. My goodness. I can't get the picture of Richie Gurley out of my head. He could do the fast version of "50 States in Rhyme" SO well. I also appreciate getting to hear the intro and the middle part again. I can't wait to sing that along with Nathan and Megan the next time we're together. :)

  3. Yippee....thanks Laura! I too, am a Whitts fan. Jim prefers Bib Bob's but what do you expect he is from South AL! I can't wait to give this a try. Love the 50 State in Rhyme. My kids are amazed when I break into the song during school! Hugs to you and your family :)


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