While living in Birmingham, Alabama, I had my first and eye-opening taste of white barbecue sauce. To first see a barbecue sauce that’s on the opposite end of the color spectrum from the typical red varieties is intriguing. Its tart, peppery creaminess is simply wonderful. Common throughout North Alabama, the tangy pale sauce is at its best on chicken, whether fried or grilled.
Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce
White Barbecue Sauce
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1½ Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 chicken (about 4 pounds), backbone removed and cut in half
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
- Canola oil, for frying
- To make the barbecue sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, pepper, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the sauce into a large zip-top bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce for serving.
- Place the chicken in the bag. Seal the bag, rub to coat the chicken, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- In a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. In another 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, whisk together the cornmeal and the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 1/4 inches of canola oil over medium heat to 340˚F. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
- Remove one chicken half from the zip-top bag, returning the remaining one to refrigerator. Dredge the chicken in the first flour mixture (without cornmeal), shaking off any excess, then dip it into the egg mixture, and dredge it in the cornmeal mixture. As you dip the chicken in each mixture, lift the wing and leg away from the breast to thoroughly coat all surfaces.
- Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil, breast side down. Fry, turning every 5 minutes, for 25 to 27 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Maintain a frying temperature of 300˚F. Drain the chicken on the wire rack. Discarding the marinade, repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Serve with the reserved barbecue sauce.