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White Barbecue Chicken
West of the Mississippi, beef is king of slow cooked barbecue. But the further east one travels, cows make way for pigs. The pigs get slow roasted whole or in pieces. The Boston butt is the most common cut for slowly cooking in a smoker. Instead of fighting over cuts of meat or which animal, east of the Mississippi the fighting is over the sauce. Mustard sauces, vinegar sauces, spicy sauces, and sugary ketchup based sweet sauces have been known to provoke intra-family fights.
Northern Alabama has given way to something altogether different. Robert Gibson of Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue in Decatur, AL, came up with a white sauce most often even referred to as am Alabama white barbecue sauce. Though it works with pig, Gibson used it for chicken. It has spread throughout the region. Though still not common in the Carolinas, parts of Georgia and Mississippi have embraced it. My family has completely embraced it, but we ran into a problem a year ago.
A lot of white barbecue sauces have horseradish, which my wife detests. I stumbled upon a recipe without it. The signature ingredient was a chicken marinade made by Lea and Perrin’s. But the company discontinued the marinade. After many attempts, I finally called the company and asked for help in recreating the essential flavor profile I use in my white barbecue sauce and my wife has finally given the seal of approval.
Here’s what you need to know — use chicken breasts. Cut them in large strips. Marinate them in half the sauce for at least four hours. Divide the other half of the sauce in two. Simmer one on the stove, where it will slowly brown in color. Use the other to baste the chicken. Also, there’s no slow cooking here. Put it on a hot grill.
4 to 10 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut diagonally into strips
3 c mayonnaise
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c lemon juice
4 tbs sugar
4 tbs cracked black pepper or 1 tbs ground black pepper
4 tbs white wine (Sauterne preferably or Pinot Grigio)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade.
Add chicken strips to a gallon zip-lock bag.
Pour one half of the sauce over chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.
With second half of the sauce, use 1/4 to 1/2 of it for basting the chicken while it is on the grill (brushing every few minutes, flipping the chicken over half-way through) and heat, over medium-low heat, the remainder, stirring occasionally, until steaming and becoming light brown on top.
Use the heated sauce as a dipping sauce or finishing sauce on the chicken.