Ed Mitchell, winner of the title #1 Pitmaster in North Carolina from the Southern Foodways Alliance and founding pitmaster of the annual Big Apple Barbecue.
"I was lucky enough to be taught how to cook a whole hog at an early age, when I was just 15. It was a tradition handed down from my grandfather, my father and my uncles," says Ed. "In those days the women cooked the sides and then men did the barbecue. It was a chance to get outside and socialize and have a sip of homemade moonshine." True Carolina barbecue is served with a vinegar sauce and is always whole hog, he explains. "It is an art. You need to know where to place the coal cinders and where to place certain sections of the pig to have it cook to the best doneness without burning. Of course you can barbecue in smaller cuts and sections for smaller groups, but you've got to realize that each part tastes different and it's that mix from the whole animal that gives authentic Carolina barbecue its true flavor."
Serve it with: Ed likes to keep to tradition with a simple coleslaw of cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, oil olive, celery seeds and "maybe just a tablespoon of mustard."
Pro tip: "The only thing I can't barbecue without is my big heat-resistant rubber gloves," says Ed. "You really have to be able to grab the meat and handle it in order to get the flavor that you're looking for, to turn it and season it while it's hot. If you miss spots it just won't be consistent."
Carolina Barbecue Sauce