Noted as the birthplace of barbecue and the home of the official four sauces by Discover South Carolina, a visit to the palmetto state wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of their many barbeque joints. Carolina bbq is all about pork and the four bbq sauces: vinegar, light tomato, heavy tomato, and mustard, aka Carolina gold.
Barbeque is as American as apple pie. Originated in colonial times, with the first mention of bbq by George Washington in 1769 (he attended a "barbicue" in Alexandria, Virginia), barbeque has grown into a cultural and regional food. Today there are four main regional styles of bbq (Carolina style, Texas-style, Kansas City style, and Memphis style) along with four smaller styles found in St. Louis, Californa, Hawaii, and Alabama. Each region has their own take, whether it be the cooking method, the type of meat used, or the sauce. For South Carolina, the sauce is key and changes depending on where you are in the state.
What's Special About South Carolina Barbecue?
Both North Carolina and South Carolina are known for whole-hog barbecue, a BBQ cooking method that involves roasting a whole pig over a pit or grill rack for an extended period of time, often about 8 hours. This BBQ method is the most traditional form of BBQ and was being used long before most other methods. Although it takes longer than more modern methods, you can't compare with its smoky, tender flavor and the expertise needed to make delicious whole hog BBQ.
Throughout the Carolinas, you can find delectable whole-hog barbecue being served with any number of sauces. Some prefer the vinegar-based sauce like the sauce used in North Carolina, while others use the tomato-based sauces. However, any South Carolina native will tell you that the most iconic barbecue sauce you'll find in South Carolina is Carolina Gold Sauce, a medley of mustardy flavors that's as tangy and delicious as it gets.
In fact, much of South Carolina is colloquially called the Mustard Belt because of the popularity of this signature sauce. If you find yourself between the Columbia and Charleston corridor and you can't help but notice how beloved this distinctive barbecue sauce is. Made with mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, this Carolina barbecue sauce is great on anything from a Carolina pulled pork sandwich to chopped pork shoulder.
You can even think outside the box of BBQ to use this sauce, dipping sweet potato fries in it or even brushing it on a fillet of baked salmon. This BBQ sauce is also healthier than many other sauce options, with no added oil or fat and a low calorie count. Served up with coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread and hush puppies, no visit to South Carolina is complete without trying this characteristic Carolina barbeque sauce.e
How to Make Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce
In a saucepan over low heat combine all sauce ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes, making sure to stir the sauce often to prevent burning. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool to room temperature before using. You can refrigerate the sauce up to a week or frozen for 3 months.
This post was originally published on February 26, 2020.