Chasing BBQ: Alabama & Georgia Meats & Spices
with Samuel Garrett
Alabama Chasing BBQ Georgia
Unlike more famous BBQ regions like Texas (known for brisket) and Memphis (known for ribs), it’s a bit harder to define Georgia and Alabama BBQ. While there are certain southern inspired dishes and sauces specific to Georgia and Alabama BBQ, you will also see various styles of barbecue throughout each state.
Alabama BBQ uniquely highlights smoked chicken with white BBQ sauce. White BBQ sauce is not your traditional barbecue sauce—it’s a mixture of mayonnaise and vinegar, with a selection of spices like horseradish, black pepper, and cayenne depending on where you are located. Bob Gibson, of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, is credited with creating white BBQ sauce in 1925. At Big Bob’s they dunk smoked chicken quarters in white BBQ sauce before depositing the delicious combo on your plate. Despite BBQ’s extreme popularity in the south, in Alabama, barbecue is second only to the University of Alabama football team.
Barbecue in Georgia is not restricted to one style, although most pitmasters now work with hams and pork shoulders instead of just whole hogs. Various BBQ sauces are found throughout Georgia. Vinegar and tomato based sauces are most common; however, around Savannah, Columbus, and southern Georgia mustard often replaces tomato as the barbecue sauce base. Arguably the most famous barbecue dish that has come out of Georgia is Brunswick stew. Recipes for Brunswick stew vary depending on where you live and who is making it, but it’s normally a tomato-based stew with beans, vegetables, and barbecued meat. It is said that the first Brunswick stew was made on July 2nd, 1898 in Brunswick, Georgia.
Even though Alabama and Georgia may not be the most recognized states for BBQ, they sure know how to season their barbecue dishes. Here’s a list of proteins and spices inspired by Savory founder Mike Johnston’s Chasing BBQ road trip. Give these a try and we know you’ll want to travel down south yourself!
Pork Spare Ribs
Despite being the most inexpensive cut of pork ribs available, none of the flavor is left behind. With a great muscle-to-fat ratio, these ribs stay moist throughout the cooking process and don’t dry out while keeping a great meaty texture. In this region of the South, they cook spare ribs hot & fast instead of low & slow. They are ribs unlike any other! We created a Hot & Fast Spare Ribs recipe to replicate what you’ll find in the south. They’re grilled over high heat, so you get a great char flavor and you don’t have to spend all day cooking them. Below are our “must have” spices for hot & fast pork spare ribs:
- Kosher Salt: Kosher Salt has a bigger flake than regular table salt as well as a crisp, clean flavor. Its larger surface area helps to absorb more moisture than most salt, making it perfect for curing meats. Additionally, kosher salt is popular for marinades, pickling, and brining. We use kosher salt to season just about any cut of meat we’re going to smoke or grill.
- Coarse Black Pepper: Our Malabar peppercorns have a bold and well-rounded flavor, which is just a bit fruity. Our coarsely ground Malabar pepper is a 20/30 mesh size—this is the size just above a common pepper shaker pepper and an ideal size for barbecue rubs.
- Spanish Paprika: This paprika has a sweet taste with a barely perceptible heat that makes it perfect for BBQ. Sweet capsicum peppers (similar to red bell peppers) are dried, ground and sifted through a variety of screens to produce a bright red flavorful powder called paprika. We also carry a sweet and hot smoked Spanish paprika.
- Georgia Boys All-Purpose BBQ Rub: Using a base of brown and white sugar, this smoky blend creates a great bark on your BBQ. This blend was created with two Georgia natives, Nick and Matt, who own Georgia Boys BBQ in Longmont, Colorado. Give it a try on anything you want to cue, but if you are looking to do it Georgia style you should focus on fruitwood smoked pork – particularly ribs, shoulders, and hams.
- Pike’s Peak Butcher’s Rub: A “butcher’s rub” is a term that refers to a coarser blend of spices, designed to stand up to the longer cooking process and remain both appealing and flavorful, making it perfect for BBQ! This rub adds great flavor to ribs, but it also works wonders on chicken, turkey, or pork chops.
Amidst the love affair with pork and beef, chicken is often forgotten in BBQ; but when treated right, barbecued chicken is delicious. You’ll often find chicken quarters being barbecued, instead of a whole chicken. Chicken quarters aren’t exactly a “quarter” of a chicken, they are the thigh and drumstick portion. You won’t find any boneless, skinless, chicken breasts down south—the skin keeps the bird juicy, the bones provide extra flavor, and the darker meat of the thigh and drumstick stay moist better than the white meat of a breast. Try our recipes for Smoked Chicken or Beer Can BBQ Chicken to see what we’ve learned about southern barbecued chicken. Unless you’re a barbecue fanatic, we’re sure you’ve never had chicken like this before. If you prefer to “wing it” instead of using a recipe, try the following spices for the ultimate BBQ Chicken:
- Team Sweet Mama’s BBQ Chicken Rub: This rub has been used in BBQ competitions and is fantastic on chicken. Try it at your next barbeque and we’re sure you’ll be a winner with your friends and family.
- Woody Creek BBQ Seasoning: This salt-free BBQ seasoning uses various ground chiles as its base and honey powder as a sweetener, making it a unique seasoning. Woody Creek allows you to enjoy the sweet and smoky flavor of barbecue without the salt.
- Wash Park All-Purpose Seasoning: Not only is this seasoning great for almost any use, it works wonders on barbeque. Using black pepper as its base spice, Wash Park provides a well-rounded flavor profile for any dish, from proteins to veggies.
- Onion & Garlic Tableside Sprinkle: As the name suggests, this blend is easy to use and always at the ready. Keep it handy for sprinkling over grilled veggies, smoked meats, or good old garlic bread. This blend also makes a tasty base for a salt-free BBQ rub.
- Long’s Peak Pork Chop Spice: This smoky garlic blend is wonderful on chicken or pork. It’s also the perfect seasoning to use in making your own Alabama white BBQ sauce. Try our Long’s Peak White BBQ Sauce and we’re sure you’ll add this to your BBQ repertoire.