June 26, 2008

Decatur Restaurant Featured in Televised Cookoff

By Jennifer R. Hill, The News Courier, Athens, Ala.

Jun. 26--Big Bob Gibson's Pit Master Chris Lilly will be cooking for Alabama bragging rights in New York today on the Today Show. He and his secret recipe for barbeque chicken and white sauce will be representing Alabama against Tennessee in "Today's Barbecue Challenge."

The regional barbeque chicken face-off pits Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's against Tony Neely of Neely's Bar-B-Que in Memphis, Tenn. It is part of a three-day segment highlighting regional barbeque styles from across the United States.

"It's a far cry for someone who started cooking in their backyard in 1925 to represent Alabama's barbeque on the Today Show," Big Bob Gibson owner Don McLemore said.

McLemore is the grandson of the late Bob Gibson. He said his grandfather started cooking barbeque in the 1920s and 1930s in backyards. They moved to the 6th Street, Decatur, location in 1952 where the business has been ever since.

Lilly, McLemore's son-in-law, started with the business in 1991 and has become well known in the barbeque industry since.

"It is indeed an honor for the Today Show to consider Alabama as one of the six major barbeque regions in America and even more of an honor for Big Bob Gibson's to be selected as the representative for the state," Lilly said.

The secret of the business's and Lilly's success has been staying true to what Gibson believed barbeque was and implementing Gibson's recipes with original style, Lilly said.

The barbeque business keeps Lilly busy. He recently represented Big Bob Gibson's at the Sixth Annual Big Apple Beach Block Party in New York. After his return from his Today Show appearance, Lilly will teach a three-day cooking school at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. In July, the Big Bob Gibson family will take part in the James Beard Foundation's Alabama 'Cue Dinner.

Lilly's appearance on the Today show may be viewed on local NBC affiliate WAFF-TV. He is scheduled to appear the last half hour of the show.

Below is the recipe Lilly will showcase:

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q chicken

Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson BBQ

2 to 4 servings per chicken


--Whole chicken


--Coarse ground pepper

--Olive oil

For Alabama white sauce:

--1 cup mayonnaise

--1/2 cup vinegar

--1/4 cup apple juice

--1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

--1/2 teaspoon salt

--1 teaspoon black pepper

--1 teaspoon lemon juice

--1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Make a cut through the chicken parallel and beside the backbone. This will enable you to butterfly the chicken. Once the chicken is opened, pop the keel bone or breastbone (the dark bone separating the two breasts) out of the chicken.

Lightly coat each side of chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle salt on both sides and place skin side up on the cooker away from the hot coals. Cook using indirect heat for 1 hour 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Flip chicken and season "meat side" with coarse ground black pepper. Cook for an additional 1 hour 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the cooker and submerge in a pan of Alabama white sauce. Cut and serve.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 3 hours


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Copyright (c) 2008, The News Courier, Athens, Ala.

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