18 January 2010

Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book

It’s Alabama Week here at Cookbook Of The Day. This week we are going to feature cookbooks from Alabama. In 2009, Alabama produced cookbooks as fast as they grow kudzu. Not the self-published type but those big, bold, colorful, national cookbooks. 
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 Miss Caroline printed her name on the blackboard and said, "This
says I am Miss Caroline Fisher.  I am from North Alabama, from
Winston, County." The class murmured apprehensively, should she
prove to harbor her share of the peculiarities indigenous to that region.
(When Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, Winston 
County seceded from Alabama, and every child in Maycomb County 
knew it.) North Alabama was full of Liquor Interests, Big Mules, steel 
companies, Republicans, professors, and other people of no background.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee


Scout might have changed her opinion of North Alabama, surely of Morgan county, if she had ever eaten at Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue.


At 6’4” and weighing in at nearly 300 pounds, Big Bob Gibson came by his nickname honestly. After working for years on the railroad and building a family with six kids, Big Bob was at a crossroad. He didn’t think he could keep working for the railroad, but he had a family to feed. When he wasn’t working, that is exactly what he was doing, feeding his family. He became an expert at cooking pork for his family. If he could feed a wife and six children, maybe he could feed other people too. In 1925, Big Bob and his wife, Ellen, known as Big Mama, opened up a barbecue joint in Decatur, Alabama. It’s still there.



Actually, it has moved time and time again. And today, under the direction of Big Bob’s great grandson-in-law, Chris Lilly, there are three locations in two states. Chris Lilly has led the Big Bob Gibson barbecue team to ten World BBQ Championships. They have also won a sauce championship. It was a natural progression to a cookbook, Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book.

One of Big Bob’s signature sauces is their famous White BBQ sauce. For a long time North Alabama was the only place you could purchase the sauce. The “white sauce” recipe was a closely guarded family secret, but Chris Lilly notes that in the history of the restaurant, there have been hundreds of cooks, so the recipe was hardly as secretive as it once was.

I never went to North Alabama that I didn’t come away bottles of Big Bob Gibson’s White Sauce. When my BFF Beverly sent me “Care “ packages from Alabama there was always a bottle of the white BBQ sauce. Beverly relayed my love of the sauce to her friend Molly, a foodie in her own right, and she told Beverly she might be able to get the recipe. A short time later, I got page torn from a small spiral notebook with Molly’s Big Bob recipe.


I immediately tweaked it, believing it needed to be spicier. (I tend to think EVERYTHING needs to be spicier!) Then I played with the ratio and came up with my own "Big Lucinda's" white sauce. Imagine my extreme joy when this book was published. There at the very back of the book was the white sauce recipe. We had all missed the “secret ingredient” failing to add the horseradish, but other than that, we had gotten pretty close.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce

2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend well. Use as a marinade, baste or dipping sauce. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

If you have never had White BBQ, are you crazy! Print this recipe, turn off your computer, got to the store, buy the ingredients along with a big chicken and get to work. Seriously, you NEED this sauce. Really. Why are you still reading this? Go.

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