The North Carolina Pork Council is proud to sponsor cooking contests across the state. Below is a look at some of the recipes that have taken home blue ribbons this year.

2018 NC State Fair Tar Heel Pork Challenge 

1st place: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Cubano
Bob Mermelstein of Cary

Dry Rub:

  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Make the dry rub: Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.


  • 1 lb. NC pork tenderloin
  • 1 Tbs. yellow mustard
  • 4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
  • 2 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest ham
  • 2 dill pickles, thinly sliced and patted dry
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

Make the pork: Preheat the grill to medium-high. Roll cut the pork tenderloin and place fat-side down on a work surface. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic wrap and spread the mustard on the pork. Lay the ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles along the center of the pork and roll from the long side. Tie with kitchen twine and rub with olive oil. Coat tenderloin with reserved dry rub. Grill the tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 145º, about 22 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Serves 4.



2nd place: Banh Mi Porkburgers
Yvonne Payton-Davis of Knightdale


  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 green onions, finely diced, green and white parts separated
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs

Pickled Vegetables:

  • 2 cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt

For the Sandwich:

  • 4 French bread rolls
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Green onion tops
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine all the sliced pickling vegetables. In a separate bowl, combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Pour liquid over vegetables. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Combine pork, white parts of the green onion, teriyaki sauce, pepper and bread crumbs. Form the mixture into four patties.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook burgers for six minutes on each side, or until preferred doneness.

To make the sandwiches: split French rolls and spread both sides with butter. Toast under broiler. Spread each side with mayonnaise. Assemble burgers with meat, pickled vegetables, green onion tops and cilantro. You may also add jalapeno slices for extra spice.


3rd place: Island Paradise Pork Skewers
Bob Brescia of Cary


  • ½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. course kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ketchup
  • 1 ripe banana, finely mashed
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 8 oz. Ginger Ale

Grilling sauce:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • Red pepper flakes or other spicy pepper to taste

Mix together all the marinade ingredients, except for the Ginger Ale, and blend until smooth. Add ginger ale to marinade mixture.

Cut pork into 1 inch wide, ¼ inch thin strips

Place pork slices into a sealable, plastic bag and pour in marinade. Marinate pork in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or if possible overnight.

Remove pork from marinade and place meat on the water-soaked wood skewers.

Mix together the grilling sauce ingredients.

Cook over medium grill, turning every 2-3 minutes, while basting with grilling sauce. Total cook time can vary but try not to go beyond medium- 8 minutes total.


2018 NC Mountain State Fair Cooking Contest

1st place: Flaky Parmesan Pork Chops
Sharon Gates of Leicester

  • 6 large boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup corn flakes

Heat the oven to 425 F.  Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip each pork chop in mayonnaise and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. With rolling pin, crush corn flakes in large sealed plastic bag. Pour crushed flakes into shallow dish. Dip each pork chop into crushed flakes, turning to coat both sides well.

Spread aluminum foil on large baking sheet. Place a baking rack on top of foil. Spray rack and foil with cooking spray. Place pork chops on baking rack and set in oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chops is 145 F. A hint of pink remaining inside is fine. Do not overcook. Remove chops from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite side dishes and garnish.


2nd place: Ultimate Pork and Beans
Connie Pegg of Buncombe county

  • 8 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped sweet banana pepper
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 ½ cup diced cooked ham pieces
  • 1 can (15 ounces) baked beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pork and beans, undrained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

In a Dutch oven, cook back on medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined dish to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Add onion and banana pepper. Cook, stirring often for two to three minutes. Add ground pork and ham pieces and cook, stirring frequently, until pork is no longer pink. Drain and discard any liquid.

Stir in the beans, the reserved bacon, and all remaining ingredients. Place in a 350 degree pre-headed oven and cook, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes or until desired consistency.

Serves 6-8.


3rd place: Pork Burger
Susie Zuerner of Arden

  • 1 ½ pounds ground pork
  • 3 slices Provolone cheese, shredded into small pieces
  • 6 Provolone cheese slices 4
  • tablespoons minced sweet onion
  • ½ cup Ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons orange marmalade preserves, halved
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 burger buns
  • 4-6 lettuce leaves
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine minced garlic, onion, ricotta cheese and half of the orange marmalade preserves with ground pork. Patti into burgers and salt and pepper to taste. On a very hot grill, cook burgers about four minutes a side until meat is 160 degrees internally. With about a minute left to cook, top with 1 teaspoon orange marmalade preserves and Provolone cheese slice, and toast buns with butter. Top burger with lettuce, buns, serve. Serves 6.