How to Make Michelin-Worthy Shrimp Skewers with Alabama White Sauce

Atlanta chef Aaron Russell shares the simple recipe that charmed the city’s Michelin Guide inspectors

Two shrimp skewers on a white round plate.

Photo: Courtesy of Poor Hendrix

Three-time James Beard Award semifinalist Aaron Russell spent years striving for pastry perfection in upscale Atlanta establishments like Nikolai’s Roof, the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, and the now-defunct Restaurant Eugene. Seven years ago he left that world, opening a neighborhood restaurant and bar called Poor Hendrix in the East Lake enclave of the city. Named after his dog, Poor Hendrix is intimate and eclectic, with a menu of small plates and cocktails that change frequently, but it hasn’t escaped the attention of arbiters of fine dining. 

Last month, Michelin released its first Atlanta guide, naming Poor Hendrix a “recommended” restaurant. “While it looks like your average corner restaurant, Poor Hendrix is so much more. It’s all about the vibe at this intimate, slightly quirky spot…Don’t expect a fuss, since they don’t take themselves too seriously,” the listing reads. The guide gives a nod to Russell’s shrimp skewers dusted with a barbecue rub and served with white Alabama-style sauce—a dish that’s been on the menu at Poor Hendrix since its inception. Michelin also included the skewers in a separate roundup of its inspectors’ five favorite dishes in Atlanta. 

The attention came as a surprise to Russell. “We see the same people day after day, week after week, so we didn’t think we were even on Michelin’s radar,” he says. “It was nice that they noticed something that’s been on our menu since we opened. It makes us feel like we’ve been on the right track all along. It’s one of our most humble menu items—we were happy they thought it was worth mentioning.”

Though Russell has seen a slight uptick in diners since the awards announcement, he’s not planning on making changes anytime soon. He is, however, opening a gourmet sandwich shop called the Velvet Hippo, and in the meantime, he generously shared a home-cook-friendly recipe for his standout shrimp skewers. Count on having some leftover dry rub and sauce to use for other purposes (if cooking for a large group, you can double the amount of shrimp while keeping the sauce and rub proportions the same), and Russell notes that you can also substitute your favorite barbecue rub.


  • Shrimp Skewers with Alabama White Sauce (Yield: 16 skewers, or 8 servings)

  • For the shrimp skewers

    • 16 16/20 peeled shrimp, heads removed

    • 16 6-inch skewers

  • For the barbecue dry rub

    • 1 tbsp. fine salt

    • 8 tsp. dark brown sugar

    • 2 tbsp. dark chili powder blend, such as Mexene

    • 2 tbsp. paprika

    • 1 tbsp. garlic powder

    • 1 tbsp. ground mustard

    • 1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • For the Alabama white sauce

    • 2¼ cups Duke’s mayonnaise

    • ⅔ cup apple cider vinegar

    • 3 tbsp. sugar

    • 1 tbsp. fine salt

    • ½ tbsp. black pepper

    • ½ tbsp. chipotle powder


  1. Combine dry rub ingredients. Sift, then set aside.

  2. Whisk sauce ingredients until sugar and salt dissolve. 

  3. Straighten the shrimp and push onto skewer, 1 shrimp per skewer, with the head at the top and the skewer exposed through the tail. Brush lightly with vegetable or canola oil. Sprinkle liberally with dry rub, then grill over high heat. Serve two shrimp with about 1½ ounces of sauce on the side.