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Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce

By
Tailgater Staff
Photo courtesy of Ken Goodman
Excerpted from Grilled To Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters’ Recipes and Techniques for Unforgettable Backyard Grilling, by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart, with Andrea Pyenson. Photography by Ken Goodman. April 2014 / Page Street Publishing. Used with permission.
"The beauty of this recipe is crispy, golden-brown skin, achieved by coating the chicken pieces with dry rub before grilling—and a little bit of technique. By cooking the chicken over low, direct heat, you vastly reduce the risk of burning the skin. When using charcoal, it’s important to watch out for hot spots. If they occur, simply move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill.

Alabama White Sauce (aka Alabama White BBQ Sauce or just plain White BBQ Sauce) is a regional oddity that is virtually unknown outside of northern Alabama. Tangy and rich, with a kick of horseradish, it is typically paired with chicken but tastes great with just about anything you can think to pour it on or dip in it." - Andy Husbands and Chris Hart.
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 4 ounces each
  • Alabama White Sauce (recipe follows)

Make the dry rub: In a small bowl, mix all the seasonings. Set aside.

Build a low direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney one-third full with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, and light it. When the coals are fully engaged—you should see flames peeking over the top—pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas, and adjust the temperature on both sides to low.

While the fire is coming to temperature, place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet, skin-side up. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the dry rub.

When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 8 to 10 seconds, clean the grill grate. Set the chicken thighs, skin-side down, on the grates. Sprinkle the remaining half of the dry rub on the chicken. Cook, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, checking periodically to avoid excessive charring on the skin. Rotate thighs over the fire if there are hot spots. If using a charcoal grill, adjust the vents to maintain a temperature of 300°F.

Flip the chicken, and continue to cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 170°F, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slather with the Alabama White Sauce, and serve.

Alabama White Sauce

Makes: 2 cups

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (we prefer Kewpie)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

Whisk all the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl until fully incorporated. Cover, and set aside until ready to use, or transfer to an airtight jar, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.