You could create a map of the South based on regional barbecue sauces alone. Think of North Carolina’s tangy vinegar sauce, or South Carolina’s spicy mustard sauce. In Alabama, the state’s signature sauce is a punchy, peppery, mayo-based condiment first popularized in 1925 at Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, one of the oldest smoke joints in the country. Today, you’ll find Alabama white sauce served with grilled or smoked chicken at barbecue joints across the state, especially in northern Alabama.
This atypical barbecue sauce recipe starts with mayonnaise (Duke’s is the go-to choice for many, but whatever you keep on hand will work) and is dialed up with a good glug of distilled white vinegar (feel free to swap in apple cider vinegar for a fruitier flavor). Buttermilk gives our version extra tang, which is rounded out by brown sugar, while cayenne pepper adds a kiss of heat. But the real star of this sauce is the freshly cracked black pepper—a whole tablespoon of it. Instead of cranking away on a tiny pepper mill, save yourself some trouble and crush whole black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or electric spice mill.
While Alabama white sauce is usually served with smoked meats, this versatile condiment holds endless possibilities. Use it for basting grilled chicken breasts, pork chops, or brisket. Toss chicken wings in it (or dunk them in a sidecar of the sauce) for an excellent appetizer. Use it as a dressing for coleslaw or salad (it might just dethrone ranch as your go-to salad dressing). Serve it as a dipping sauce for french fries or fried green tomatoes. Or pair it with Sweet-Tea-Brined Fried Chicken for a match made in…well, Alabama.
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