Red Hot and Blue

For two years in graduate school, I lived in North Carolina. One of the things you learn about when you live in North Carlina is what good pulled pork tastes like. Good pulled pork is pork shoulder, or the whole pig, cooked over a low smokey fire for many many hours. In the part of North Carolina where we lived, the meat is also marinated in a vinegar and pepper sauce. The result is meat that is textured but tender, and is infused with the flavor of the smoke.

I moved from North Carolina to Pittsburgh almost 15 years ago, and have never had passable pulled pork in the city limits until tonight. There were a few places that came close. But in general, what passes for pulled pork in this part of the country is chopped up tasteless meat dunked in liquid smoke and about a gallon of bad sauce. Good pulled pork has taste even if it is not sauced at all.

Tonight I went to the new Red Hot and Blue franchise at the Waterfront, and although they do not serve the most sublime BBQ pork that you can get, the stuff is decent, and it at least tastes like real meat instead of a mashed up saucy pudding.

Red Hot and Blue is a chain that originated in Washington DC and has several stores in that area and along at East Coast. There was even one in North Carolina that we used to go to. I had feared that the place would not be very good because the last couple of times I had eaten in the Red Hot and Blue in Rockville, the meat had been a bit marginal.

But tonight, the pulled pork was tender, and tasty. My only complaints are that some pieces were dry and overall the meat was not quite as smokey as the best stuff. The corn muffins were also stupid. These problems are easy to overlook, because at least we can now say that there is decent pulled pork in Pittsburgh. All lovers of well cooked meats should rejoice. But, if I catch you going to this place and ordering the chicken, I’ll hurt you.