Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

North Carolina BBQ's secret menu - Outside Brown

Who doesn't love a secret menu? In it lies treasures reserved for the elect. Meals bespoked for regulars rather than the usual hum-drum fare dished out with all the passion that a cog in the machine can muster.

In the Piedmont region of North Carolina where Lexington style BBQ reigns this secret menu item is "Outside brown". Outside Brown refers to the meat that's exposed to the smoke.

The apex of stupid comments on Carolina BBQ is that the meat doesn't get smokey because we use wood coals rather than raw wood in cooking our meat. If you stood next to some glowing wood ember for a few minutes your shirt will smell like smoke for a month. Imagine then a pork shoulder spending almost 12 hours over these cinders?

So where does this reputation for not being very smokey come from in North Carolina BBQ? The first culprit is that the vast majority of Carolina joints cook with gas or electricity while still advertising their baked pork roast as BBQ. The second issue is that even people who do smoke with wood leave the brown stuff to the side!!!

This is largely because many older folk prefer the inside white meat which is leaner and softer. So when you order a plate of BBQ in Lexington or Winston-Salem, you're getting inside meat not the good stuff.

If you want that deep dark meat. The ones where the smoke is embedded it hits the most primal nerve in your brain. You'll order outside brown. This term exists only in North Carolina. The rest of the country refers to it as bark, where the maillard reaction of meat changes the texture of that calls to mind caramel.