I first had smoked chicken with white sauce in Alabama about four years ago. Of course I sneered at it. Smoked? Chicken? No no no, you smoke pork! White barbecue sauce, a combination of vinegar and mayonnaise… how disgusting! It never ever fails that when I have closed minded thoughts like these I’m proven all sorts of wrong. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I had a bit of the snob knocked right out of me when I ate in Alabama.
To begin with, smoking poultry is magical. The meat obviously becomes smoky and enticing, but it also resonates with the beautiful dry rub seasoning and becomes sweeter. In fact, to this day, my favorite Thanksgiving turkey was a smoked turkey breast we bought from a local Alabama restaurant. I replicated that this past Thanksgiving and will write that up at some point because I intend to do it again and again. But, what I’m trying to convey is that smoked poultry is fantastic.
Furthermore, dunking your chicken in tangy peppery white sauce is perfection. They’re made for each other and I now understand why it’s so famous.
The only “trick” to doing this is making sure you allow yourself enough time. It’s a two day process because you first brine the chicken and then smoke it. And while it’s altogether easy, the process can be intimidating the first time around.
To smoke the chicken I turned my basic grill into a smoker. I “snaked” charcoal briquettes along one side in three layers to create one side that will remain hot and allow for indirect heat (and smoke) to cook the chicken on the other side. The briquettes are topped with soaked wood chips, hickory in my case. You start 8-10 briquettes in a charcoal chimney, if you don’t have one you start them on the opposite side of the charcoal snake. Once they’re smoldering you transfer them to one end of the “snake” so that they start those briquettes smoking and then it becomes a chain effect and the longer the “snake” the longer you’ll be able to smoke your chicken.
For the chicken
1 chicken (about 4 lbs)
1 pot full of water
1 cup dry rub
3/4 cup packed dark sugar
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup espresso powder (ground espresso beans)
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Alabama White BBQ Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoon brown mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon grated horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bring a stock pot of water up to a boil and add in the cup of dry rub to dissolve. Once the brine is cool, transfer it if needed to a container that will fit in the refrigerator, and add in the chicken and let brine for 4-8 hours in the fridge. After the chicken has brined, pat the chicken dry and let it sit in the fridge for 6 hours to dry out. Discard the brine.
Using the snake technique described above, preheat the grill/smoker to 275-350 degrees. Add the chicken to the grill and smoke covered for 3-5 hours. Mine took 4.
Mix all the ingredients for the white sauce together. Stir well. Adjust with more pepper or vinegar as you prefer, but remember you’re going for a bit of a bite. Taste with the smoked chicken (if possible) before altering.
This is great served with white bread or cornbread, coleslaw if you have it, pickles for sure, and salad fixings.