Pit-Cooked-Chicken SandwichesSteven Raichlen
Pit-cooked whole chicken slathered with Alabama white sauce has a rich history in the barbecue world, going all the way back to Big Bob Gibson, the pitmaster behind his eponymous restaurant in Decatur, Alabama. I was introduced to the mysteries of Alabama white sauce by my dear friend Pat Martin, a barbecue badass. When you first dip the perfectly cooked chicken in the creamy white sauce, you’ll ask, “How have I never had this before?” The tang of the vinegar and the mayonnaise is just amazing.
I turned the idea into a barbecue sandwich, cooking the chicken low and slow in the smoker and pushing the deliciousness even further by adding a coleslaw made with sour cabbage. But by all means, feel free to serve it like you would any whole roasted chicken: Carve it up and pair it with all your favorite sides.
More Sean Brock Recipes:
Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.
- Yield: Makes 8 sandwiches
- Equipment: Smoker
For the Chicken
- 1 3-pound chicken
- ½ cup BBQ Rub
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the Sour Cabbage Coleslaw
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce or Red Clay Original Hot Sauce
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 ½ cups Sour Cabbage, drained
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
- 8 potato rolls
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup Alabama White Sauce
1: For the chicken: Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before smoking to allow it to come to room temperature.
2: Prepare the smoker with hardwood charcoal and hickory; maintain a temperature of between 200°F and 215°F.
3: Combine the BBQ rub and salt and liberally season the chicken inside and out with the mixture. Transfer the chicken to the smoker and smoke until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of one of the thighs reads 165°F, about 4½ hours. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
4: For the coleslaw: Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, hot sauce, and celery seeds in a bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage and onions and stir to combine. Transfer to a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate. (The coleslaw can be made ahead. Tightly covered, it will keep for up to 1 day in the refrigerator.)
5: To chop the chicken: Leave the skin on the chicken and use a knife or your hands to separate the meat from the bones and cartilage. Roughly chop the meat and skin into approximately ½-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl and cover lightly with foil. (The chicken can be prepared ahead to this point; let cool completely before covering. Tightly covered, it will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat the chicken in a large skillet with a little chicken stock before using.)
6: To serve: Split the rolls in half and spread the butter on the cut sides. Heat a large cast-iron or other skillet over medium heat. Add the rolls cut side down and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
7: Divide the sauce among the bottom halves of the rolls and pile on the warm chicken. Spoon the coleslaw on top of the chicken, top with the other halves of the rolls, and serve.