White sauce chicken originated at Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, Alabama, back around 1925. Bob generously shared his white sauce recipe and the style has since spread state–wide. I like to finish my chicken over some hot coals to ensure the skin is not flabby, but this is an optional step.
- 1 whole chicken, butterflied (see Note)
- 2½ cups mayonnaise – whole egg is best
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 tbsp horseradish
- 3 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chicken stock powder
- 1/4 tsp citric acid
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling/Resting time 1-3 hours
To make the white sauce, combine all the ingredients except the chicken. Mix well.
Butterfly the chicken (see Note).
Lightly cover the chicken with some of the white sauce and let it sit in the fridge or at room temperature for at least 1 hour, but no more than 3 hours.
Place the chicken skin-side down on your smoker at 110°C for an hour then turn the chicken skin-side up. Do not baste at this stage as the smoke will not penetrate a wet item.
Cook the chicken skin-side up for another hour, then baste with more white sauce every half hour. An important hygiene point at this stage is to avoid cross-contaminating the rest of the white sauce with your basting brush. Just tip some into a separate bowl to use for basting, and keep the rest of the white sauce separate from the meat.
Continue to baste the chicken until it is cooked – the internal temperature in the thigh should be just above 72°C. You can also check for doneness by piercing the thigh meat with a small sharp knife; if the juices run clear the meat is cooked.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a hot grill, skin side up. Baste the skin, place the chicken skin-side down and baste again. Do this one more time so the skin is no longer flabby.
Remove the chicken from the grill and give it a final baste. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.
• You can butterfly the bird yourself, or ask your butcher to do it.
• Chicken that is cooked low and slow will still have a pinkish tinge to the meat. This doesn’t mean that the chicken is raw.
This recipe is part two of our Ultimate BBQ series. Read our top tips on BBQ chicken here, and see part one in the series, our guide to Ultimate BBQ pulled pork, here.
Photography by Mark Roper. Styling by Vicki Valsamis. Food preparation by Lance Rosen.