There is no cooking in this country that engenders the strong opinions, lively discussions and regional chauvinism that barbecue does…If barbecue is America’s most controversial food, then North Carolina must be its barbecue-controversy capital. There are North Carolinians who contend that the only true barbecue is cooked around Lexington, in the central part of the state. Then there are those who declare that only the barbecue “down east,” around a town called Goldsboro, has authentic, down home, melt-in-your-mouth flavor.
On a recent visit to North Carolina, I was asked to act as a sounding board for both sides of the argument and to sample the evidence. I left three days later, a smile on my face and a few new pounds around the middle. …On the third day I traveled with friends to a town down east(Goldsboro) to sample the differences in the two regions. And there is a difference…
The differences in the barbecue were that the whole pig – split in half down the backbone and laid flat on the cooking surface – was used rather than the pork shoulder. The sauce was made primarily with vinegar, red pepper, black pepper and diluted with water. (the difference between this and the Lexington sauce is that the ketchup is omitted.
Our first stop was a sunny, no-nonsense spot called Scott’s Famous Barbecue in Goldsboro…I spoke to the owner, an affable, 42 year-old man named Martel Scott, who told me that his establishment had first opened in 1917 under the ownership of his grandfather…The chopped barbecue sandwiches were excellent. The spare ribs were commendable.
There have been uncounted stories and even a few books written about just how seriously North Carolinians take there barbecue, but few parts of the state have a barbecue history that runs as rich as that of the area east of Raleigh and west of the low, coastal country, in this flat land of tumble-down tobacco sheds, green fields and mill towns.Gene Price, the editor emeritus of the Goldsboro (N.C.) News, says political candidates file past the local barbecue to be anointed, and politicians’ waistlines, as much as the polls, show who is campaigning the hardest. It may be impossible, he believes, for a skinny man to be elected here…
There is Scott’s, also in Goldsboro, which dates to the 1920’s, when a black man named Adam Scott started selling barbecue to white people from his back door…The door was the only acceptable place for whites to pick up there barbecue from this black minister, who was famous across North Carolina. No one knew why, but it just seemed to taste better. As the years went by, they went from picking it up at the back door to picking it up at the front door, then eating it in his yard, then eating it on his porch. Eventually, he fenced in the porch and called it a restaurant.
In one way, the taste of Mr. Scott’s barbecue overrode prejudice, but it brought to light another. For black customers in those early years, it was take-out only. For whites, to dine at a black-owned restaurant was one thing. To dine with blacks was still taboo. After Adam Scott’s son, A. Martel Scott took over in the 1940’s, the restaurant had two dining rooms, one for whites and one for blacks. It changed in the 1960’s, under the pressure of the Federal courts.
“Most of his business came from whites,” said Ann Scott, the widow of A. Martel Scott, who died in 1992. “They supported him. And he was criticized for it.” Thirty years have cooled old resentments. “I’ve eaten black pigs and white pigs, and Poland Chinas, which are white and black.” said Mr. Price, the newspaper editor. “There is no damn difference. Barbecue is part of our culture. It really has more political significance here than racial. Here in Wayne County, for any person to run for office successfully, the first have to go out and be anointed.” At the barbecue.
Scott’s Barbecue Sauce is a hot, thin-bodied tangy sauce that lingers on the tongue. Composed of vinegar, salt, pepper and spices, it’s a “thin vinegary sauce with heat, like a hot pepper sauce,” said one expert. It’s good on almost anything – that’s if you can stand the fire.
“It’s the best ye ever tasted” is the motto of Scott’s Barbecue Sauce, a North Carolina favorite since 1917. And though the restaurant of the same name that serves the sauce is not exactly conveniently located for casual walk-in business ( it’s 52 miles east of Raleigh), owner A. Martel Scott Jr., reveals customers have driven “from across the state” to sit down to a steaming plate of our spicy barbecue ribs.
Folks from Texas might dispute the matter, but (Martel) Scott insists North Carolina is the “home of the world’s best barbecue sauce.” The difference? Texans rely on tomato-based recipes, while Scott cooks up a pepper-based sauce with vinegar, herbs, spices and a few drips of water. He uses the same recipe his grandfather Adam Scott passed down the family line.
And while the pepper vs. tomato dispute may linger through future Scott generations, Scott Jr. hopes to settle it once and for all: “Our sauce marinates deep into the meat. Tomato sauce just sits on top. Which would you rather have?”
“Adam Scott of Goldsboro used to be fond of cooking whole pigs in his back yard. He needed a barbecue sauce to complement the pork, so he developed a vinegar-based blend in the 1940’s. His son, Martel, improved the original recipe and started bottling Scott’s Barbecue Sauce for retail sale in 1948.
The straightforward ingredients in this thin sauce include vinegar, salt, peppers and spices, earning it high marks from area weight control businesses as a cooking sauce, notes Sybil Scott Seward. “When it settles, you can see the peppers on the bottom. Don’t shake it up if you don’t want it as hot,” she says.
Uses for cooking chicken and pork are listed on the bottle, but, Seward adds, many customer marinate seafood in the sauce or add it to seafood after it is cooked.”
“A recipe Adam Scott said came to him in a dream in the early 1900s has been selected by a Food & Wine magazine panel as runner-up in a national barbecue sauce contest.Described by one expert as a “”thin vinegary sauce with heat, like a hot pepper sauce,” Scott’s Barbecue Sauce finished as a runner-up among the vinegar based sauces. It was one of 31 sauces tested, most of which were tomato based.
A. Martel Scott, Jr., who heads the family-owned and operated business said he was honored to even be considered for the contest. “Food & Wine is highly critical and respected, so when they called I felt very honored. It’s very highly regarded” The sauces were tested by four food authors/critics assembled by the magazine.
Touted on the bottle’s label as “the best ye ever tasted,” Scott’s sauce is for those who like things spicy and hot, Scott said. “I’ve never had people say it’s too hot, it’s too vinegary, I don’t like it. I think most people who try it think it’s a novel thing that’s good,” he added.
The roots of Scott’s Barbecue Sauce go back to 1917 when Scott’s grandfather Adam first got into the barbecue business in Goldsboro. The recipe for the sauce developed over a three-year period and remains a secret which is passed down through the Scott family. Adam, a local minister, said the exact ingredients in the sauce were revealed to him in a dream. A. Martel Scott, Sr. took over the business in 1942 and expanded the operation. The restaurant on N. William Street was opened in 1950″.
- Pork (Shoulder, Ham, Ribs & Loins),
- bacon grease, salt, pepper, Scott’s Barbecue Sauce.
Pork shoulder, ham, ribs, should be placed on a rotisserie over hot charcoals, Baste with Scott’s Barbecue Sauce until well done. Sprinkle with salt, and pepper. Will provide excellent taste and tenderizes while cooking.
Recipe for sauce came to ‘Papa’ Adam W. Scott in a dream. The tradition has continued through his son, A. Martel Scott, Sr. , grandson, A. Martel Scott, Jr. and great-grandson, A. Martel Scott, III.
Steam chicken in a small amount of water until tender. Place halves or quarters of chicken in baking pan, mix all ingredients, and pour over chicken. Cook at 360 degrees until brown. Base every 15-20 minutes.