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Clumsy Country Cooking - Smoked Chicken With Alabama Barbecue Sauce & Cheese Biscuits

Disclaimer: I am super clumsy with a smoker or barbecue grill (I don’t use gas). It probably took me as long to get the coals hot as it did to make the dish. But I’m learning. Luckily, my friend Mark offered to tutor me on the finer points of setting your outdoor heat source.

During the 1920’s, Bob Gibson from Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue in Decatur, Alabama, came up with this complete shift in barbecue sauces, and it’s now a staple in that state, even bottled for retail sale. Big Bob Gibson’s is still in operation, in two locations, run by his son-in-law.

I’d heard of this sauce a number of times, but never tried it as I thought it was more of a ranch-type dressing than a BBQ sauce. That was a mistake. This is now my favorite chicken recipe. The combination of smoked chicken and this sauce is an absolute winner. There are a number of interesting new takes on this sauce, but try this, the original first.


Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon powdered garlic

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper



METHOD

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container in the fridge until ready to serve, at least 2 hours so the flavors can meld.


Smoked Chicken

INGREDIENTS 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or your favorite cuts)

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil


METHOD

Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs.

In a shallow bowl, pour the oil. Place the chicken in the bowl and roll around until the pieces are all coated. Mix the dry spices in a small bowl and coat the chicken with it.

I used charcoal and mesquite chips, and smoked the chicken for just over 2.5 hours at about 250.

The chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165, and the length of time it will take depends on how big your thighs are, the temperature at which you smoke, at and whether or not you are still, like me, in the awkward apprentice stages of smoking.

That said, this chicken was extremely tender, the skin wonderfully flavorful and crispy.

I threw some asparagus spears on the grill with the chicken in the last hours or so of cooking. But this country dinner needed one more thing to round it out - biscuits.


Biscuits

INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup fine milled corn meal

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne pepper

6 ounces Monterrey Jack Cheese

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream


METHOD

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, cayenne, and baking powder.

Stir in the grated cheese and the diced jalapeños.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the cream into the center of the well and your hands to gently bring together the ingredients.

If you need to add a bit more cream then do so a tiny trickle at a time. Dough will be sticky and clumpy.

Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough just a few times - maybe only three or four pushes. You just want it to just come together. (Over-kneading will result in firmer, denser biscuits.)

Form the dough into a disc about 3/4-inch to an inch thick with a biscuit cutter or a small juice glass. Combine the leftover dough and keep forming small round biscuit shapes until the dough is used up.

Place on a silicone-lined or parchment lined baking sheet, with at least an inch or two between the biscuits. Bake at 425 for 11-12 minutes or until golden.

To serve, pour a bit of the sauce over the chicken and a vegetable if you’re serving one. But make sure to have extra on the table for dipping.

Sitting on my patio now, feeling pretty proud of myself.

I think I deserve a mint julep, don’t you?

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