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Airline Chicken with Basil Butter

Courtesy of pitmaster Chris Lilly

This is one of my favorite recipes and it’s so simple. It’s an airline chicken breast with basil butter. Airline chicken breast is basically a boneless, skin-on breast with a little drumette still attached.

The skin protects the meat while it’s over direct heat.


Serves 4

Suggested Wood

Hickory, pecan, oak


- 4 chicken breasts (skin-on breast with only the wing drumette attached)

- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter

- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

- Kosher salt

- Pepper


1) Create two zones on the grill, one with direct heat and the other for indirect.

2) One should have charcoal, the other void.

3) Melt the butter in a small pan.

4) Add the basil and mix well.

5) Remove cartilage from underside of chicken breast, keeping only the drumette bone.

6) Season the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper.

7) Grill the chicken for approximately five minutes over direct heat, until the skin is golden brown, crunchy and crisp.

8) Pull it off the grill and transfer to a shallow baking dish, skin side up.

9) Place the dish with the chicken in the indirect heat zone.

10) Baste the chicken with the basil butter.

11) Cover the grill and cook with indirect heat (approximately 400 degree F) for an additional 35 minutes.

12) Baste it at least one more time while its cooking.

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Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q - Alabama & North Carolina


Chris Lilly is a world-champion pitmaster and executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL.


Chris Lilly has won 10 world barbecue championships, including six Memphis in May world titles, which is also known as “The Superbowl of Swine.”


- Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint [buy it]


Chris Lilly’s recommendations for where to eat BBQ in Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Texas.


Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q

Multiple Locations

American / Barbecue


Decatur, Alabama

1715 6th Avenue SE

Decatur, AL 35601

T: 256.350.6969


Daily, 9:30am - 8:30pm

Decatur, Alabama

1715 6th Avenue SE

Decatur, AL 35601

T: 256.350.0404


Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 8:30pm

Monroe, North Carolina

1507 W Roosevelt Blvd

Monroe, NC 28110

T: 704.289.5102


Brined Chicken with White Sauce

Courtesy of pitmaster Chris Lilly


Serves 8

Suggested Wood

Hickory, pecan, oak


- 1 cup apple juice

- 1 tablespoon salt

- ¼ tablespoon garlic powder

- 1 tablespoon honey

- ½ tablespoon dark brown sugar

- ½ tablespoon soy sauce

- ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

- 8 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

- Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce  


1) In a medium bowl combine the brine ingredients with 1 cup of water and mix well.

2) Add the chicken breasts, making sure they are completely covered.

3) Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4) Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and wipe off the excess salt.

5) Preheat an outdoor grill to 400 degrees F. 

6) Place the chicken breasts on the grate directly over heat and grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. 

7) The internal temperature of the chicken breasts should be 160 degrees F.

8) Submerge each chicken breast into a bowl of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce.

9) Remove from the sauce and serve.


Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Chicken with White Sauce

Courtesy of pitmaster Chris Lilly


Serves 4 to 8

Suggested Wood



- 2 whole butterflied chickens

- 1 tablespoon salt

- ½ cup oil (vegetable, olive, lard)

- 2 teaspoons black pepper

- Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce    


1) Build a fire (wood or combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the cooker, leaving the other side void.

2) Preheat the cooker to 325 degrees F.

3) Coat each whole chicken evenly with salt.

4) Place the chickens over the void side of the cooker, with the skin side up.

5) When the skin on the chicken is golden brown, after about 1 ½ hours, turn the chickens skin side down, basting both sides with the oil.

6) Sprinkle the cavities of each chicken evenly with pepper.

7) Cook the chicken for an additional 1 ½ hours or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F.

8) Add more wood to the fire as needed to replenish the supply of coals and maintain 325 degrees F.

9) Pour the White Sauce into a narrow, deep container and position it next to your cooker.

10) Remove each chicken from the cooking grate and submerge it into the pot of White Sauce.

11) Remove the chicken from the sauce, cut each chicken in half between the breasts, and then quarter, by cutting between each breast and thigh.