OK, one thing you need to understand about me is that I love cabbage. It is by far my favorite vegetable and I like it stewed, braised, sauteed, steamed and grilled, but the best for me is in a slaw. I love cole slaw. I like it creamy or vinegary, crunchy or braised, sweet or spicy. I love it. So, when I read a new-to-me version of slaw in the newest Cook’s Country I had to try the recipe even though it contains ketchup, one of my least favorite foods. This was a dilemma for me because I have no ketchup and never buy it. If I bought ketchup for the slaw, I would use that tiny bit in the recipe and then I would have a bottle of ketchup taking up valuable fridge real estate. My best friend was visiting and I showed her the recipe and she immediately noticed the ketchup and offered to bring some over so I could try it without buying ketchup. Yesterday she brought over the ketchup and to make it even better, she brought a new slaw she had made. It was brined and silky smooth with the flawless flavor of caraway. I hoped the Carolina Red Slaw would be as good.
The recipe called for a whole head of finely shredded cabbage. When I had shredded that mountain of cabbage and saw it overflowing the bowl, it occurred to me that given my disdain for ketchup that maybe I should not make a full batch, so I split it in half and used the other to make my favorite cole slaw recipe, the spicy and savory Memphis Slaw.
I began with the Carolina Red Saw – a vegan slaw. I put 1/4 cup of cider vinegar in a bowl with 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes (more accurately, I took a dried red chili and crumbled it up for flakes.) I microwaved it for a minute so it was hot and bubbly. I added 1/3 cup of ketchup and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I set this aside and addressed the cabbage.
The best cole slaw recipes use one method or another to draw liquid from the cabbage before dressing it. This recipe had a new to me technique but it sure worked. I put the cabbage in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp of salt and microwaved for about 90 seconds. Then I put it in a colander to rest and about 15 minutes later I squeezed the liquid out of it. Then I added the dressing and stirred it all up and stuck it in the fridge overnight. Tasting it this morning, it’s fresh, bright with a pleasant sweet and spicy tang.
With the other half of the cabbage I made the Memphis Slaw, vegetarian yes, but not vegan. Oddly enough, it is also from Cook’s Country, the August/September 2007 issue handily stored in a plastic magazine holder for when I need it. This is a slaw rich with the flavor of mustard, a smokey rich flavor with spicy jalapeno for bite.
This took a more traditional approach to breaking down the cabbage, but first I had to cut up all the ingredients. To the slaw I added about half a carrot and half an onion finely shredded. I couldhave used half a jalapeño, but my chili was so small I used the whole thing, mincing it fine. I mixed up everything in a colander with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit over a bowl for an hour. I rinsed it and squeezed out the liquid and let it dry.
While it was drying, I made the sauce with 4 TBSP each of mustard, green salsa (official recipe calls for chili sauce), mayonnaise, sour cream (I used plain yogurt) and cider vinegar. I added 1 tsp of celery seeds and 3 TBSP of sugar. The official recipe calls for more sugar and for brown sugar, but I prefer less sugar and don’t have any brown sugar on hand. Anyway, toss this all in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over the veggies and stir so they are coated and refrigerate. You can eat it in an hour but I left it overnight. Seriously, the hardest part about making cole slaw is waiting until the next day to eat it.
I heated up some roast pork leftovers with some commercial barbecue sauce and served the slaws. Slaw and barbecue, it’s what’s for lunch.