Pulled Porkstravaganza — The Duck Deli, Duck, NC

 

We here at On Sandwiches have never made any bones about our deep and abiding lovefor the pulled pork sandwich. In August, we are showcasing some of our recent pulled pork experiences and seeing how they stack up against one another, and against our idea of what a pulled pork sandwich should be.

Today’s pulled pork sandwich is a bit of a departure, since it does not feature pork. The Duck Deli, located in the minuscule town of Duck in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is locally famous for its in-house smoked meats. Said meats can be fashioned into meals or platters for in-house or takeaway dining, or you can simply opt to carry out an entire chicken or side of beef or whatever you desire.

I had gone into the Duck Deli with my eye on the Chopped Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich, but was informed that they were fresh out of brisket. Looking over the remaining sandwich options, I felt compelled to opt for the Pulled Chicken over the pulled pork option. Chicken that comes with a smoke ring is a rare occurrence (or at least, rarer than it ought to be).

The pulled chicken came as most pulled pork sandwiches often do: meat and sauce on a bun. No need for putting on airs. The chicken was indeed quite good and flavorful, and the sauce was just fine. The only real downside was that the bread was a bit too spongy. Good for soaking up sauce and containing a potentially messy sandwich, but bad for chewing and swallowing.

This was a slightly above-average sandwich, but showed the pulled meat genre often stands on its own. You needn’t add bells and whistles to have a satisfying sandwich. If the meat is the star of the sandwich, you oughtn’t drown it in a gimmicky sauce. One needs to have confidence in the ingredients. You’ll find, more often than not, that they will sort out the rest.

 

Cheese Steak — Outer Banks Cheese Steaks, Austin St., Corolla, NC

The esteemed founder of this enterprise had an all-too-common experience with a cheese steak in the Bay Area of Northern California. As I have said in the past, I am forever intrigued by geographically-famous sandwiches, and perhaps equally as intrigued by sandwich shops that appear to be a bit out-of-place.

Since I have never visited Philadelphia, I have never had the opportunity to have a “true” cheesesteak, or indeed even a tasty approximation thereof. Finding myself in North Carolina, and finding my initial destination of a deli closed for renovation, I spied Outer Banks Cheese Steaks tucked away in the back of a shopping center. I figured, since this was as close to Philadelphia as I was liable to get for the foreseeable future, why not give it a whirl?

My first order of business was to find out how authentic an operation this was. I inquired as to the use of Cheez-Whiz. The woman manning the counter and the grill (for they were nearly one and the same) replied, in moderately offended tones, that the cheese in use was provolone. I opted for the classic cheesesteak, and further opted for onions and peppers, as I feared a large roll filled with steak and mild cheese would be too monotonous.

As it turned out, the roll was the tastiest part of the sandwich. A true grinder, it held the sloppy components admirably and provided pleasing flavor and texture. The rest of the sandwich was bland, bland, bland. The grilled vegetables had nearly no flavor at all, and the cheese was somehow lost, even though the steak appeared to have been minced and cooked with no seasoning whatsoever.

It was sustenance, to be sure. But one wonders as to the value of a large amount of nearly-flavorless food.