barbecue sauce from North Carolina is only good for pulled pork, aka Carolina pork BBQ, is sadly mistaken and missing out on some mighty good eats.
And I not referring to using NC vinegar barbeque sauce as a marinade for chicken or a seasoning for collard greens, although those are perfectly fine ways to use the sauce.
No, I'm talking about the following recipe created by Greg on the fly, when we had too much cabbage on hand and no desire to make or eat slaw. Although he usually just "eyeballs" the quantities and throws everything together without measuring, I finally was able to persuade him to weigh the cabbage, count the bacon strips and pour the BBQ sauce into a measuring cup so that I could post his recipe for spicy BBQ Bacon Cabbage here. Feel free to adjust the ingredient quantities to suit your taste and preferred spiciness. Sometimes Greg adds one or more of the optional ingredients, depending on what we have in the refrigerator. But the basic recipe is more than good enough without any of them.
1 large cabbage, approx. 2 lbs
5 strips bacon, chopped into 1" pieces
2/3 cup vinegar-based NC barbecue sauce*
Optional: A little (1 Tbs to 1/4 cup) finely chopped onion
Optional: 1 small hot pepper or 1 Tbs to 1/4 cup chopped sweet/bell pepper
Optional: Freshly ground black pepper to taste
NC vinegar BBQ sauce like Wells Hog Heaven, or a thin vinegar & tomato Piedmont/Lexington (western NC) barbecue sauce like the original Bone Suckin' Sauce or Jim's Own Homestyle or Hot Bar-B-Q Sauce. You don't want to use a thick tomato-based barbecue sauce in this recipe because it's too sweet and doesn't have enough vinegar, and is likely to scorch (plus it won't taste right). The less tomato in the NC BBQ sauce, the better for this recipe.
Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove & discard core and then slice the cabbage into thin strips. Cook the chopped bacon in a pot large enough to hold all the sliced cabbage. When bacon is fully cooked, add the sliced cabbage (and onion and/or peppers if using) to the pot and stir to combine. Yes, you'll be cooking in the bacon grease -- I never claimed that this recipe would be low in fat. Once the cabbage is nicely coated with the bacon grease, stir in the barbecue sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until cabbage is tender. Taste for balance and add a little more BBQ sauce if you want a more tangy flavor, or black pepper if you want a spicier heat. Serve hot, and refrigerate any leftovers (they're tasty either reheated or cold from the fridge). Makes about 6 servings, or fewer if you can't stop eating it.