It's a sad day. My Carolina Hurricanes have been officially eliminated from the NHL playoffs. Before this year, it had been a decade since the Canes had last made the playoffs. Back then, and in 2006 when they went all the way and won the Stanley Cup, the PNC Arena (then known as the RBC Center), was known as the Loudest House in the NHL. In fact, the fans at Game 7 of the Finals, including my wife and I, were recorded at 128 db, which is comparable to a military jet aircraft taking off from an aircraft carrier with an afterburner. That's loud! I am proud to say that even with 10 years in between, Caniacs brought back the noise this year helping push the team all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals!
But this is a food blog after all, so what's the connection? Not only is PNC home to the loudest fans, it's also home to the best nachos you'll find anyone in sports.
I've had lots of nachos at sporting events, although not as much as my brother-in-law who used to make it a mission to try the nachos no matter what sports venue he was visiting. Most are your typical, boring chip topped with goopy cheese and some jalapeños. And yes, the nachos at PNC start with the same boring chips and end with the same goopy cheese. But in between is a staple of North Carolina living. Plump, juicy, and moist smoked pulled pork. Top the whole thing off with your choice of eastern (vinegar) or western (tomato-based) bbq sauce and you've got yourself a delicious and filling sports arena dinner. And thanks to a long run in the playoffs, my family enjoyed many a nacho this spring!
Even though the playoffs have come to an end, the inspiration gained lives on at home, with my own take on the pulled pork nachos...perhaps even better! I replaced the salty round chips with a restaurant-style tortilla chip, and rather than the heavy cheese sauce, used straight-up shredded cheddar cheese. The pork was seasoned with my He Can Cook Smoky Spice Rub and cooked low and slow in my crock pot, then tossed with a local bbq sauce. A few homemade pickled onions top it off.
I think I'll need to make these at least once a month to relive the playoff memories made until October when we start it all again and make another run at Lord Stanley's Cup! Let's Go Canes!