White barbecue sauce?
Years ago, in my Weber Smokey Mountain, low and slow barbecue days, I heard a rumor about white barbecue sauce. It was local to Alabama, and Big Bob Gibson’s was famous for it. Split chickens were smoked, then dunked in a big tub of white sauce. Who’d ever heard of such a thing? I kept an eye out for a recipe, but for years, there was nothing.
I got my first recipe for White barbecue sauce from Cooks Country magazine, and the secret was…mayonnaise. Huh. Who would have thought it? The recipe tasted great, and I loved the way the white sauce would melt onto the chicken, leaving it with a sweet, spicy glaze. That said, I was suspicious. Cooks Country? They’re just a bunch of Northerners, pretending they understand barbecue. They can’t have it right, can they?
*As a Northerner who pretends to understand barbecue, I feel like I can judge.
Then the floodgates opened. Chris Lilly, executive chef at Big Bob Gibson’s, published his cookbook. Suddenly, white barbecue sauce recipes were everywhere. And, sure enough, Cooks Country just about nailed it. The only real difference was the sweetener – Mr. Lilly’s used apple juice; Cooks Country used white sugar.
White barbecue sauce may look strange, but it really does taste like a barbecue sauce. The mayonnaise gives it a creamy base, then you get a big hit of vinegar and sweetness, followed by a hint of heat from the spices. It makes a great coating for chicken, and it’s good on pork, too.
*I stuck with sugar for the sweetener in my sauce. I haven’t had apple juice in the house since the kids grew out of juice boxes.
Recipe: Rotisserie Alabama BBQ Chicken
Adapted From: Chris Lilly Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; the kettle is here and the rotisserie attachment is here)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x12″, or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher’s twine
- 1 fist sized chunk smoking wood, preferably hickory, soaked for 1 hour
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 cup table salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 (5 pound) roasting chickens
Alabama White BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Brine the chicken
Combine the brine ingredients in large container and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Submerge the chicken in the brine. Store in the refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably four hours, no longer than eight hours. While the chicken is brining, soak the smoking wood chunk in a bowl of water.
2. Make the barbecue sauce
Whisk the barbecue sauce ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Prepare the grill
Prepare the grill for cooking on indirect medium heat (see details here. For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter 3/4 full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill, and put the drip pan in the middle, between the piles.
*I recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, the perfect size for this recipe.
4. Truss and spit the chicken
While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Fold the wingtips underneath the wings, then truss the chicken. Skewer the chicken on the rotisserie spit, securing it with the spit forks. Let the chicken rest at room temperature until it is time to grill.
5. Rotisserie cook the chicken
Put the spit on the grill, start the motor spinning, and make sure the drip pan is centered beneath the chicken. Add the smoking wood to the fire, then close the lid and cook until the chicken reaches 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, brush the chicken with the white barbecue sauce every five minutes.
Remove the chicken from the rotisserie spit and remove the twine trussing the chicken. Be careful – the spit and forks are blazing hot. Brush the chicken one last time with the white barbecue sauce. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve, passing the remaining barbecue sauce at the table.
- The amount of white barbecue sauce in this recipe is a little more than you need for two chickens. I make a double batch, and poured it back into the squeeze bottle mayonnaise jar. The squeeze bottle is convenient – I can squirt the sauce directly on the chicken, then store the container in the fridge when I’m done.
- White barbecue sauce has what I would call a medium heat level. This might come as a surprise to your guests, considering the white color. If you want to cut back on the heat, cut the black pepper and cayenne in half.
- As I said in the opening, I am cheating a bit with the sauce. To be authentic, it should have a teaspoon of prepared horseradish and a teaspoon of lemon juice in it, use white vinegar instead of cider vinegar, and substitute apple juice for the brown sugar. Here’s Mr. Lilly’s original version.
- If you’re really into authentic, you can make your own food processor mayonnaise as the base for the sauce. I just have to use up this bottle of sauce I made, then I’ll give it a try.
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.
Chris Lilly Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
It’s a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!
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