Kevin Gillespie's Barbecue Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

By • June 24, 2014 • 23 Comments

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Author Notes: The struggle of barbecued chicken has always been in getting it to cook through without going dry or burnt first. This recipe from Top Chef Kevin Gillespie combines classic barbecue techniques (Robert C. Baker's Cornell Chicken plus Big Bob Gibson's Alabama-style white barbecue sauce), ensuring the chicken will stay juicy and flavorful despite any of our own failings. If you're nervous about food safety, you can try doctoring up prepared mayo for the sauce to serve on the side, but otherwise you should be clear with this recipe, as long as you've handled the chicken and eggs safely (buy good eggs, keep the sauce in the fridge until you're ready to use it, make sure to cook the chicken -- including the last round of basting -- through to 165° F). But really, after the marinade and basting have done their work -- the extra sauce is a nice, but unnecessary, bonus. Adapted slightly from Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking (Andrews McMeel, 2012).Genius Recipes

Serves 4

For the Chicken

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (or make your own -- we used 1 1/2 teaspoons each of dried marjoram, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, plus 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
  • 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 3 1/2 teaspoons fine salt)
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 6 chicken leg/thigh quarters
  • 1 1/2 cups Alabama White Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, blend the egg yolks, vinegar, water, poultry seasoning, and salt until the yolks fluff a little, about 30 seconds. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil; the mixture will blend, emulsify, and resemble mayonnaise. You will hear the sound change to a whop, whop; it should take about 1 minute. Spoon the marinade into a large zip-top bag, add the chicken pieces, and massage until the chicken is completely covered with the marinade. Zip the top closed, pressing out any air as you seal the bag. Set the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours.
  2. Pour 3/4 cup of the Alabama White Barbecue Sauce into a bowl to use for basting. Heat a grill for indirect medium-high heat. On a gas grill, just leave one side of the grill unlit. On a wood or charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat completely dry. Scrape the grill clean and coat with oil. Place the chicken, skin side down, over the unheated part of the grill and cover with an aluminum pan or tent with foil. After 10 minutes, flip the chicken pieces, moving them to a hotter part of the grill, but still over indirect heat. Cover again with the pan or foil. After 10 more minutes, baste the chicken with the sauce, flip so the skin side is down, and baste again. Cover with the pan or foil, cook for another 10 minutes, and then baste, flip, and cover one last time, for a total cooking time of 40 minutes, or until the chicken -- including the last round of basting -- reaches 165° F. Discard the basting sauce. Remove the chicken from the grill and rest, tented with foil or a foil pan, for 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

For the Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1 1/8 teaspoons fine salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper and process until the yolks fluff a little, about 30 seconds. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil; the mixture will bend and emulsify but won't be as thick as the marinade used for the barbecue chicken. You will again hear the sound change to a whop, whop; it should take about a minute.
Jump to Comments (23)

Comments (23) Questions (1)

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2 months ago MaryDD

Do you think 8-10 hours is enough to get the value of the marinade? As in, throw chicken in marinade early morning, bbq same night? Or does it need to be more like 16-20?

Miglore

2 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

8-10 hours would still be very good!

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3 months ago Susan Dahl

Chicken was delicious! A bit salty for me so I will use less next time.

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4 months ago amyeik

Just made this tonight - delicious! The marinade was slightly less thick than expected, but not strikingly so. The basting sauce was perfectly thick. I felt like a pretty impressive grill master after this, so thank you Kevin G. and Genius Recipes! And, I kept the extra sauce to try with potatoes tomorrow - great suggestion.

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4 months ago mgeller604

Made this tonight for a dinner party and it was delicious! Everyone loved the sauce as well. The marinade was thinner than the recipe led me to believe, but it worked its magic on the chicken. Will definitely make this again.

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4 months ago s_bermingham

How would you cook this in the oven?

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4 months ago Frances

I just cooked it as you would any other piece of chicken. I didn't baste and I didn't cover it.

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4 months ago LiquidSmoke

Made this tonight. Chicken incredibly moist and sauce is to die for. However, as others say, the marinade is definitely thinner than mayo so the instruction comment that the marinade "resembles thick mayonnaise," was not so for me. I cooked this on a charcoal grill using Cooks Illustrated doubled banked fire method. Took way to long to cook. Next go round I will make this using boneless breasts and thighs for faster cooking and excuse to enjoy the fantastic sauce.

Pancakestwitter

4 months ago WhatsEating

Just made this on a gas grill. My seasonings were marjoram, rosemary, a little herbes de provence, paprika and nutmeg. Incredibly tender and flavorful chicken! You're right about the extra sauce - nice but not necessary. I'm looking forward to making this again for friends!

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4 months ago Eric W

The barbecue sauce has a nice tang that works as a warm potato salad dressing. I roasted small potatoes on the grill with grapeseed oil. People cut them on their plate and poured the sauce over the top. It was a hit.

Miglore

4 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Brilliant.

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4 months ago Julie A Cason

Can't wait to try this. A few years ago, we were on a mission in our little RV to try all the major styles of BBQ in the U.S. We sampled 'cue in Santa Maria, CA; KC, MO; Memphis; North and South Carolinas (we're still talking about the mustard BBQ sauce from SC); various spots around TX; and Big Bob Gibson's white BBQ sauce in Alabama. That white BBQ sauce was the only disappointment in the whole lot; the bottled sauce (with "Refrigerate After Opening" on its label) was sitting on every table, room temp. If there's anything less appetizing than that, I don't know what is. Eager to try this fresh recipe to see what all the fuss was about.

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4 months ago Julie A Cason

We did make this on the Fourth of July and the chicken was fabulous! We made the sauce and completely forgot about it, as the chicken was perfect on its own. I like Eric W's idea of using it on roasted potatoes, though. Next time!

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4 months ago Brooke Bass

I'm making this for a blog post, but have noticed the barbecue sauce isn't quite white. It's more of a yellow-y, pea green color. Where did I go wrong?? Or could it just be that my grapeseed oil has a more vibrant color than most? I'm still planning to BBQ the chicken as directed...hopefully it works out because this sounds so delicious!

Miglore

4 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

The marinade will be green-tinted from the poultry seasoning, and the "white sauce" for basting and serving will be a little pinkish from the cayenne -- totally normal!

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4 months ago Gunnie

Couldn't get the mayo to thicken. ?

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4 months ago Frances

I found that the first batch in which the chicken marinades didn't thicken that well (at least not like euro mayo) either, but I just went with it. Was still yummy.

Miglore

4 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, both will be more like a thick sauce -- neither should be as a prepared mayonnaise.

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4 months ago Frances

I made this in the oven due to extremely inclement weather in South eastern Australia this week! Very yummy and can't wait to try on the barbie when it gets warmer.

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4 months ago Robin

Tandoori chicken, marinated in yogurt, spices, oil and lemon juice is another marinade that will insure juicy chicken on the grill.

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4 months ago Robin

Another way to retain moisture in barbecued chicken is to marinate in yogurt with Indian spices like in recipes for tandoori chicken. There is usually some lemon juice and oil in the marinade as well.

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4 months ago Candi

Do you think I can use a blender instead of a food processor? (vitamix)

Miglore

4 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, definitely!