Mayonnaise probably isn't the first ingredient you think of when you hear the words "barbecue sauce." It might even be the last thing that crosses your mind (especially if you're not a coleslaw-on-pulled-pork kind of person). Yet the creamy condiment is, in fact, the main ingredient in Alabama white barbecue sauce, a tangy and sweet blanket for slowly grilled chicken. Donald Link's recipe in his new cookbook, Down South, is on the spicy side—in addition to the mayonnaise and vinegar, he stirs in a scoop of prepared horseradish, cayenne, freshly ground black pepper, minced jalapeños, and a good dose of pickled chiles. His sauce makes an excellent topping for grilled chicken skewers (dark meat, of course, with skin included), lending the gently smoky meat a rich, spicy tang.
Why I picked this recipe: I'd never eaten, much less made, Alabama white barbecue sauce before.
What worked: This simple grill recipe couldn't be easier or more rewarding. Even mayonnaise-haters will appreciate the rich glaze.
What didn't: Be sure to give the sauce a few good stirs before brushing it on the chicken. The good stuff (aka chiles) tends to fall to the bottom of the bowl.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't care to light a grill right now, you can cook the chicken under the broiler. Keep a close eye on the skin, though, as it will be quick to burn.
Reprinted with permission from Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe. Copyright 2014. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes 12 to 16 skewers
- Active time: 35 minutes
- Total time:1 hour and 35 minutes
- Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cane syrup
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced pickled chiles
- 4 (about 6 ounces each) boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
To make the barbecue sauce: Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before serving.
To grill the chicken: Cut the thighs into even thirds or quarters, whatever makes sense for their individual shape. Brush the chicken with the oil, season with the salt and pepper, and weave the strips onto skewers.
Heat your grill to medium.
When the grill is hot, put the skewers on the grill skin-side down. Grill until the skin is nice and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the thighs and finish cooking on the other side, an additional 3 to 5 minutes (the skewers should need 13 to 15 minutes total cooking time).
Brush the thighs with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce and char on the grill for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Serve with a dish of the remaining sauce for dipping. Leftover sauce is delicious with any grilled meat (like pork chops, chicken breasts, or spare ribs).