Makes 4 cups
People raised in Decatur, Alabama, know that barbecue sauce is supposed to be white. For more than eighty years Big Bob Gibson’s has been dunking its golden-brown birds, fifty at a time, into a vat of this tangy, peppery white sauce. The steaming, glistening chickens are then cut to order for our customers.
For years and years the restaurant’s early-morning cooks closely guarded the white sauce recipe, which was made each day before the day shift arrived. However, even without doing the math, I can tell you that hundreds of cooks have passed through the pitrooms of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, so I don’t think you can describe this recipe as “closely guarded” anymore.
I do know that Big Bob’s techniques and recipes, including his white sauce, have influenced the flavors of regional barbecue in Alabama. The great thing about passing secrets is that every time they are shared they change slightly. There is now a large number of “authentic” versions of Big Bob’s original secret recipe and cooking method—all different from one another. This is one of my favorite examples.
• 2 cups mayonnaise
• 1 cup distilled white vinegar
• 1/2 cup apple juice
• 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
• 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend well. Use as a marinade, baste, or dipping sauce. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.