Whereas in North Carolina no pork barbecue restaurant worth its peppery vinegar sauce would serve “que” without a little Brunswick stew on the side, the age-old tradition at barbecue pits in South Carolina is a side dish of thick meat gravy over rice or grits simply called hash. Depending on the area of the state, hash can be made with all beef, all pork, organ meats, or a combination of these primary ingredients, and while nobody agrees on just what constitutes an authentic hash, at hash cook-offs held everywhere from Gaffney to Union to the Sea Islands near Charleston, at least there seems to be a consensus that any hash must be cooked slowly in a cast-iron pot till it’s the consistency of a smooth meat purée (or, as one expert put it, “thick baby food”). Adventurous travelers in the state will look for the hash at Willard’s Hash and Barbecue in Gaffney, Maurice’s Piggy Park in Columbia, and Mr. B’s Barbecue on Johns Island. At home, you might want to try my version, served over boiled rice or grits or simply on a bun.
Place the beef, pork, and optional liver in a heavy cast-iron pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till the meats are almost falling apart, about 3 hours. Transfer the meats to a large pan and, when cool enough to handle, pull into bits.
Place the meats and onion in a food processor, grind coarsely, and return to the pot. Add the butter, tomato paste, and salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, and cook till the mixture resembles a thick gravy, 2½ to 3 hours, stirring frequently.
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