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White BBQ-Sauce: in Alabama, smoked meat gets dressed up in white ~

2 min read

While styles of barbecue vary from state to state, Americans (and not only), when when it comes to BBQ Sauce, tend to expect a tomato-based condiment. This traditional Alabama barbecue sauce is unlike any other barbecue sauce you might be familiar with. The white barbecue sauce gets its uniquely pale and creamy disposition from mayonnaise. Four other ingredients round out the basic recipe: apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and coarse-ground black pepper.

“Big” Bob Gibson a 195 centimeters and 136 kilograms railway worker, is the man behind this state specialty. In the mid-1920s, during the week, he worked on the L & N (Louisville and Nashville) railroad, while on weekends he barbecued for friends and family in the backyard of his Danville Road home before he ever thought of opening a restaurant.
Big Bob cooked whole chickens and whole pork shoulders in his hand-dug pit and served them from an oak-plank table nailed to a sycamore tree.
When Bob opened his first restaurant in Decatur in 1925, the white sauce was there from day one. Bob’s sauce was vinegar-based, but it included mayonnaise. A lot of mayonnaise. Why? The restaurant’s current executive chef thinks it’s because the added fat helps maintain the meat’s moisture as it’s slow-cooked.

A backyard barbecue at Big Bob Gibson’s Decatur residence in the mid-1920s.

And today, over ninety years later, his recipe is still going strong. The establishment has a second location, a trophy case filled with awards, and a state’s worth of eateries that followed suit. The sauce has since evolved into a table condiment and dip, especially for smoked poultry, fried chicken, and pulled pork.

Author’s note: white BBQ sauce is widely available at barbecue restaurants across Alabama, and selectively available at restaurants in surrounding states.

Images from web.

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