The Myth of White Barbecue Sauce – It Does Exist!
Red BBQ sauce is, in its simplest form, a basic blend of tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. The sauce base can be tomato sauce, paste, puree and even ketchup (on a budget). Sugar brings sweetness to the barbecue sauce and may either be corn syrup, honey or molasses. The inclusion of vinegar lends a “wang” to the sauce. In fact, some of the best “sauces” we have ever tried are vinegar based only. But hey, that’s our opinion. We have been red and vinegar since way back, so don’t try and change us now. Or so we thought! White barbecue sauce…NO WAY!
The white barbecue sauces of Alabama are different from most other barbecue sauces (mainly because they are white) and the base of choice for the preparation. These sauces are predominantly mayonnaise (we know what you are thinking) based, unlike the more “common” red and vinegar sauces. White barbecue sauce can be “really white” to “sort of white”. Consistency is generally on par with the reds and vinegars, from thick and rich to free flowing. As for the ingredients, Myra Grissom, owner of Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, insists there are only 4 ingredients: mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and coarsely ground pepper. You tell em’ Myra.
Now truth be told, we were not too keen on trying white sauce the first time. Seriously, just did not look right.
Maybe that was from the years of “brainwashing” on gallons of red, yellow and vinegar based sauces we have here in South Carolina. Or possibly because the French bechamel sauce (no one likes the French ) has a strange resemblance. More than likely, it was the mayonnaise thing.
On a recent visit to Swig and Swine in Charleston, SC we decided, after many swigs, to try some on our swine. Now one thing you have to realize is that you could pour used motor oil on the bbq at Swig and Swine and it would still taste great…yep it is that good. The meat, not the motor oil.
We digress. So after deciding to boldly go where no one at our table had gone before, we gave the Alabama White a try. We were pleasantly surprised at the mild and slightly “horseradishy” taste that paired well with the smoked brisket. It still looked kind of “weird” on the meat, but the taste was spot on. We had peered into the abyss and survived.
Next time you see the white sauce offered, give it a try. You might be surprised.
Just make sure it’s not the salad dressing or your kid’s glass of milk!