When Ted's parents moved to Alabama ten years ago, I was a little skeptical but curious. My Southern knowledge base consisted of an appreciation for monograms, Lilly Pulitzer and a Florida beach vacation every couple of years— I wasn't sure where Alabama figured into the equation. Needless to say, I had a steep learning curve the first time I visited Gulf Shores but it was an informative ascent to all things Alabama— including smoking and saucing chicken.
Barbecue is serious (and some would say, sacred) endeavor down South and I was an eager student of the craft. My pre-Alabama BBQ experience consisted of Famous Dave's, Rudolph's and a Weber kettle grill with a little smoker box full of wood chips. I knew that mixing baked beans and coleslaw was always a good idea, tangy BBQ sauce was the only way to go and a rack of ribs make Ted a seriously happy man. But there were lots of gaps in my knowledge base— what kind of rub was the best, chunks or wood chips, electric or wood smoker and the final fly in the ointment— white or red sauce (I didn't even know there was a color choice in the BBQ sauce department)?? Turns out, white BBQ sauce is an Alabama, specifically Northern Alabama, invention and one I'm so pleased to have discovered. It's a tangy and sweet-ish sauce that makes a mean coleslaw dressing as well as a kick-ass mop sauce for chicken and pork shoulder.
I've been expanding my knowledge base ever since— Bad Byron's Butt Rub is the best, smoking over wood is the only choice worthy of a beautiful piece of meat (except when the temperatures head into sub-zero territory and you've received 115 inches of snow) and there is nothing, and I mean nothing, like smoked chicken sauced with Alabama white BBQ sauce.
Alabama BBQ Chicken
12 - 14 chicken thighs and legs
Bad Byron's Butt Rub (available here)— to season the chicken and for the sauce
1 1/2 cups Hellman's mayonnaise
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons white sugar
1/3 cup horseradish
2 teaspoons Bad Byron's Butt Rub (or 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in water ( I used pecan wood chips)
Season the chicken legs and thighs on all sides with the Butt Rub and place, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.
Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, horseradish, Butt Rub (or salt and pepper), garlic and cayenne in a bowl, mix to combine and place in refrigerator.
Preheat the electric smoker to 225 degrees and fill the smoker box with the wood chips/chunks. Place the chicken in the smoker and cook for 3 - 4 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a sheet tray and mop with the sauce. Cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the extra sauce on the side.