Pitmaster Club Signin or Signup

grill, smoker, thermometer, accessories ratings
×

Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum
(3) An all new expanded Temperature Guide Magnet
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

Big Bob Gibson's Bama Birds with White Barbecue Sauce

"Well, Meathead, it's all there. You've got the right ingredients. Some of the proportions are a bit different, but they're close. In fact, I might have to try your version." Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que

big bob gibson bar-b-que chicken with white sauce

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que, in upstate Decatur, Alabama, has been a popular local hangout since 1925. In the past decade the place has achieved national fame on the coat tails of the acclaim slathered on Chef Chris Lilly and his Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que competition team. Big Bob's now has two locations in Decatur, and the original is now destination dining.

That's Chris, below, in the red shirt, with his father-in-law, Don McLemore, owner of Big Bob Gibson's and the son-in-law of Big Bob himself. The photo of the man in the green shirt dipping butterflied chicken into white sauce is Ken Hess, theam member and the pitmaster at Big Bob's.

Their team has won practically every major competition on the circuit. Lilly can be seen doing TV commercials for Kingsford charcoal, and he has been featured on the Today Show, USA Today, in the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living and numerous other publications. You can even sit at the foot of the master and learn how to make championship barbecue by watching his DVD series.

Big Bob's red sauce has been named "Best on the Planet" at the American Royal Open in Kansas City, but their signature white barbecue sauce for chicken is their most famous because it is unique, although it now has several imitators.

Chris Lilly and Don McLemore of Big Bob Gibson's

A few years after I wrote this recipe, Lilly published a damn fine cookbook, and there is a white sauce recipe in it. But he is coy. He says "There is now a large number of 'authentic' versions of Big Bob's original secret recipe and cooking method - all different from one another. This is one of my favorites."

You can bet I immediately made the recipe in his book. Then I cut a chicken cut in half. Half got my recipe half got his book's recipe, and damned if his wasn't better. So I went back to the drawing board and blended the two together. I did another tasting, and damned if the new version wasn't better than both the parents. So I revised my recipe. The new one is pictured above, and the recipe is below.

Just a note of caution: This is not what everyone thinks of when they think of barbecue sauce. It is white, first of all. And it is not sweet. Not everyone likes it, and it doesn't work well on pork or beef. But it's very nice on chicken, an American classic, and worth a try if you love barbecue. If you don't like it on chicken, it's just fine on coleslaw.

Recipe

ken at big bob gibson's

Makes. 1.5 cups of sauce, enough for 2 large chickens or 3 Cornish game hens, which serves 4 to 6 people

Takes. 10 minutes for the sauce, about 45 minutes to cook the meat

Ingredients

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon powdered garlic

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish from a jar (either in vinegar or creamy)

1 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper

Method

1) Whisk together all the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate in a jar for at least 2 hours, if possible, to allow the flavors to meld.

2) Lilly butterflies his chickens, which makes sense in a high production environment, but I prefer to quarter them so I can make sure no part is overcooked since breasts and thighs cook at a different rate. I recommend you cut the bird into quarters: Two drumstick and thigh combos, two breasts, and remove the wings from the breasts. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides

3) Crank up your smoker or prepare the grill for 2-zone indirect cooking. Shoot for 325°F in the indirect side. Place the chicken skin side up on the indirect side of the grill. Put a handful of wood chips, chunks, or pellets on the heat source. Use a foil packet with wood on a gas grill and on a charcoal grill put the wood right on the coals (no need to soak the wood). Just a handful of wood. Don't overdo it. Nothing will ruin chicken faster than too much smoke.

4) Check the temp of each piece independently because they will cook at different rates. Place your probe in the thickest part of each chunk but don't touch the bones. The wings will finish much faster than the other parts so put them on late and be prepared to remove them early. When all parts hit about 155°F, flip the bird and put the skin face down on the hot side. When they reach 165°F, paint them generously on all sides with the sauce (at Big Bob's the dunk it). Serve.

This page was revised on

Return to top

Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Return to top

Return to top

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, mythbusting, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, and how to cook great food outdoors. There are also buying guides to barbeque smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, pulled pork, Texas brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, chili, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best all edited by Meathead Goldwyn.

Brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world, still growing rapidly, and one of the 25 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2005 - 2015 by AmazingRibs.com. All text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs.com and fully protected by US copyright law unless otherwise noted (some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright). This means that it is a Federal crime to copy and publish or distribute anything on this website without permission. But we're easy! We usually grant permission and don't charge a fee. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website.