BBQ Recipe Secrets

Alabama-Style White Barbecue Sauce

Not everyone can abide tomatoes, which can be a problem when eating barbecue. Luckily, there's always white barbecue sauce.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

As I like to say: someone, somewhere, will try to eat everything in every possible way at least once -- which no doubt explains the existence of mayo-based white barbecue sauce. Yes, mayo, as in mayonnaise. The white stuff you put on your baloney sandwiches and mix into your tuna salad.

It's kind of a weird idea, admittedly, but not as weird as it sounds. And by golly, the sauce itself tastes pretty darn good.

Er… All Righty Then

Aside from the urge to experiment, there's a perfectly good rationale behind mayo-based barbecue sauces: not everyone likes tomatoes, and some people are allergic to them. Should they, then, do without succulent, mouthwatering barbecue for life? Heavens no! Thus the alternative.

For good or ill, this so-called "regional anomaly" derives from the culinary wizards of Alabama, specifically of the Decatur area. If you want to get specific about it, some sources credit a fellow named Bob Gibson with coming up with the original recipe in 1925... but I suspect that others would contest that assertion.

Oh, the Variety!

Like most other regional barbecue recipes, the taste for the white sauce has spread elsewhere since its advent. It's still mostly limited to the Deep South, however, where grillers traditionally use it to dress chicken, though it also works with pork and grilled fish. Might as well try it with beef, too.

Some varieties are extra thick, some thin as milk. Recipes vary from person to person, and no doubt some folks are willing to substitute Miracle Whip for mayo. Not us, though! We're purists here, at least in this one thing.

The Recipe, Then

This great recipe for white BBQ sauce is the best I've tasted. It's a rather spicy one, though, intended to make you sit up and take notice. It presents a mustardy bite somewhat reminiscent of the best Memphis sauces, but takes it in a different direction with the horseradish and garlic.

Here's what you'll need to make a large batch (about a quart's worth), suitable for a big feed. You can scale it up or down as necessary.

3 cups of mayonnaise (not salad dressing, sandwich spread, etc.)
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Creole mustard
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Four cloves worth of minced garlic
Four teaspoons of prepared horseradish

Prepping the sauce couldn't be easier—there's no cooking involved. Just whisk all the ingredients together thoroughly and let it age in the refrigerator for several hours. Fair warning: the garlic will sharpen it up nicely as it sits. When you're ready, you can use your spicy white barbecue sauce for basting and dipping.

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