Grill It Low and Slow: Pat Martin, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
Credit: Photograph by Christopher Testani

Eight years ago, Pat Martin turned a lifelong passion for smoke and meat into Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint. People couldn't get enough, and he's since expanded to four locations. "I'm not a chef," he says, "but I know an awful lot about live fire." Here's Martin's recipe for real pit-style flavor in your weekend grilling.

Garlic-Butter Baste (Makes 2 cups, enough for about 5 lbs of meat)

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely grated garlic
  • ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp grated Spanish onion
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Go Gray
Slow grilling requires steady, even heat. Start with a charcoal chimney fire on a grill, and spread the coal into a bed and dot with more charcoal. "When it's burned down to gray ash with no flame, you're ready," Martin says.

The Right Wood
Martin likes pecan, hickory, and apple. Place wood chunks (or soaked wood chips) around the perimeter of your coal bed; let them smolder. If you're using gas, place soaked chips in a shallow aluminum pan, cover with foil with holes poked in it, and place over medium-high heat.

Let the Meat Inhale
The more time with the smoke, the better the taste. Martin also grills meat right from the fridge, rather than letting it reach room temperature – cold meat absorbs smoke better, he says.

Rethink Your Sauce
Forget tomato and vinegar and try this: North Alabama white barbecue sauce, a spiced mix of mayonnaise and vinegar that provides a perfect combination of tartness and richness and breaks down into a delicious glaze when applied to hot food.

Smoky Slow-Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce (Serves 4–6, with leftover sauce)

  • 1 4–5 lb chicken

For the brine:

  • 1 gallon water
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • 1½ tbsp cane syrup, or honey

Combine the brine ingredients and brine chicken in the refrigerator for 4–8 hours. While chicken is brining, make the sauce. Mix together mayonnaise and vinegar, followed by the remaining ingredients. Stir to incorporate.

Start your fire, and let it burn down to a medium-hot gray ash (or turn your gas grill to medium). Drain and pat the chicken very dry, then use shears to cut out the backbone and open the bird flat. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Hold your hand 2 inches above the grill grates. When you can keep it there for 3 seconds, lay the chicken down, skin side up. Put a heavy skillet on top of the chicken, and place a brick in the skillet.

Cook chicken for 12–15 minutes, then flip and cook for another 12–15 minutes, or until it's just done. Remove and immediately glaze with sauce. Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 2–3 minutes before serving with more sauce.