This Alabama White Sauce Will Be Your New Cookout Staple

The recipe, from soul food chef Scotty Scott, is perfect for a Father’s Day feast.

alabama white sauce recipe weekend project barbecue chicken
Photo courtesy of Scotty Scott
Photo courtesy of Scotty Scott

Scotty Scott’s palate was formed in childhood. He grew up in a family of home cooks, and anytime there was a holiday or party, he could be found either by his mom’s side, taking in all her techniques, or with his dad, swatting smoke out of his eyes next to the grill.

“My mom not only encouraged me to try different things, but she always wanted me to have a well-rounded meal,” explains the self-taught, Texas-based cook. That means when friends scoffed at the vegetables on his plate, Scott dove in. “It’s because of them I’m always looking for different flavors, different textures, and different items on my plate, which really helps to make a dining experience more pleasurable.”

Scott grew up in Detroit, then moved to Houston at 17 for college and law school. Although food was always at the center of gatherings growing up, it was Scott’s exposure to the Gulf Coast—and the seafood that came along with it—that really sparked his interest in cooking.

“The Gulf Coast region really just took a hold of me and that cuisine is where I started really honing my chops as a home chef,” Scott says. “With my friends and their family members is where I learned how to make gumbo and po’boys and that whole thing.”

Scott began hosting dinner parties. It was a creative outlet for him as he grappled with his newfound career in the world of law. Friends and family were encouraging, constantly asking Scott when he’d write a cookbook. In his eyes, cooking was merely a hobby, but to his friends and family, they saw—and tasted—a gift.

“The more people encourage you, the more you think you might actually be able to do it,” Scott grins. “And then I realized that if you really enjoy something, if it’s something you’re really passionate about, you need to pursue it.”

So Scott began a food blog, aptly titled Cook Drank Eat, where family and friends could scour the recipes he developed. He also began making YouTube videos to coincide with the dishes he was preparing and hosting pop-ups so he could feed more people in person. He became a private chef, even cooking for Grammy award-winning singer Leon Bridges. Eventually, cookbook publishers came knocking. What Scott once viewed as a mere hobby became a career.

While writing Fix Me a Plate, Scott was taken back to his time in law school, conducting research in libraries and steadily documenting his progress with handwritten notes and photographed logs of his recipes. “That aspect of writing the cookbook, the research, really took a hold on me,” Scott says. “I can’t wait to do it again for the next one.” In exploring the world of soul food, Scott also got to delve into his own family history.

“Even though I grew up in Detroit, my mother was from Savannah, Georgia and a lot of the things she cooked for me were traditional recipes from the Lowcountry region,” Scott explains. “It was so great to be able to include those in my cookbook in a kind of reawakening of my family’s food roots, while still adding my own seasoning to it.”

It’s why Fix Me a Plate touts both traditional and new school soul food recipes—Scott is all about experimentation and making each dish his own. This includes his acidic, mayo-based ‘Alabammy’ white sauce, something he didn’t grow up with, but now adds to dishes like his pecan smoked chicken—inspired by his dad and the days he barbecued for the whole neighborhood.

And now, with his own kids, he can continue his family’s food-loving legacy, building off the recipes his mom and dad once prepared for him.

“It’s been incredible cooking with my three-year-old, my sous chef,” Scott smiles. “As a father, I think you always look for something to share with your children, and fortunately cooking is one of those things. Hopefully he can grow up and have those memories of us in the kitchen, and at some point he’ll be creating his own recipes.”

Pecan Smoked Chicken with Alabammy White Sauce Recipe

•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon paprika
•1 teaspoon garlic powder
•1½ teaspoons black pepper
•¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1 whole chicken cut up
•Pecan chips for smoking, as needed

1. Place about 4 cups of pecan wood chips in a bowl. Cover the chips with water and set aside.
2. In a medium size bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips in the smoking tray of the grill. If your grill does not have a smoking tray you can make a packet out of aluminum foil by placing the drained chips in aluminum foil, wrapping it up and punching a few holes in the top. If using a gas grill, place the smoking tray or foil packet directly on the cooking grate about 10 minutes before cooking. If using a charcoal grill place the drained wood chips directly on the hot coals about 5 minutes before cooking.
4. Making sure the grill is hot, place the chicken meat side down on the grill over medium high heat. The cover of the grill should be close with the vents slightly ajar to help keep the smoke circulating around the meat. After about 15 minutes turn the chicken to its opposite side, checking every 5 minutes or so to make sure there are no flare ups. Cook for about 30 minutes or until a meat or instant read thermometer reads 160°F at the thickest part of the chicken. Remove the chicken and allow to rest for 5 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook once coming off the grill and should have a final temperature of 165 F. Once the chicken has rested, drizzle with that delicious Alabama white barbecue sauce.

Alabama White Sauce Recipe

Yield: 1½ cups

• 1 cup mayonnaise
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons orange juice
• 1 teaspoon horseradish
• 2 teaspoon brown mustard
• ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Whisk errythang—the mayo, vinegar, sugar, orange juice, horseradish, mustard, Worcestershire, pepper, cayenne and garlic—in a bowl until smooth.
2. The sauce may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.