~ Mel's Creamy Crunchy Cole Slaw ~
I'm trying really hard to think of something fun to say and write about cole slaw! What I think is: cole slaw is another one of those misunderstood foods I write about every now and then. It is amazing to me just how many people say they don't like cole slaw, then admit they've never tried it because they just don't like cabbage or anything made with cabbage. I grew up loving my grandmother's pepper-slaw, my mother's stuffed cabbage rolls and my dad's homemade sauerkraut, so admittedly, I am at a loss with folks who have this mindset. Hopefully I can change some minds with this post!
The words cole slaw, come from the Dutch word "koolsla", meaning: cool cabbage. Cole slaw is a salad of red or white cabbage and mixed with a mayonaisse, vinaigrette or other type of dressing. The key to a great homemade cole slaw is to make sure your vegetables are very "dry", or drained of as much moisture as possible before combining them with the dressing mixture. It didn't take me long to figure out that when making cole slaw: this is one instance when using store-bought, pre-washed, dried and shredded cole slaw mix and carrots are just perfect... and what a time saver too. My grandmother used to shred and chop all her ingredients by hand a day in advance of mixing her slaw. She would carefully wrap each item in a kitchen towel (although a few paper towels work just as well), put them in a bag and refrigerate them overnight. This process makes sure that all the excess moisture gets "sucked out" of the vegetables (absorbed by the towel) and makes for that signature "crunch" that great cole slaw is known for!
Besides growing up eating cole slaw at all sorts of picnics and outdoor gatherings, my fondest memory of the dish is, and remains, our trips through "The Carolinas". If you say, "cole slaw", I say, "pulled-pork" and there is nowhere better to eat this dynamic "'wich 'n 'slaw" combo than in those two states. To read my recipe along with all of its step-by-step directions for ~ Carolina-Style Pulled-Pork BBQ/Sandwiches ~ (also pictured at the end of this post), just click into Categories 2, 10 or 17. Here are the ingredients you'll need to make my cole slaw:
1 pound, store-bought, bagged, shredded carrots
3 cups diced yellow or sweet onion
1 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper
4 cups mayonnaise, chilled
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon dry English mustard
4 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce, more or less, to taste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon "Jane's Original Krazy Mixed-Up Salt", or sea salt
~ Step 1. I'm using the green peppers as an example in this picture.
Prep the onion, green bell pepper and red bell pepper as directed. Place each one on 3-4 layers of paper towels as you work. Allow the towels to absorb moisture for about 10-15 minutes.
Gather the paper towels up around the vegetables and give everything one last pat dry.
Trust me, this is what is going to make your cole slaw crunchy!
~ Step 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, celery seed, mustard, pepper sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until a smooth, slightly chunky sauce is formed. Trust me, this is what is going to make your cole slaw creamy!
~ Step 3. Add all of the vegetables to the bowl: slaw mix, carrots, onions, green and red bell peppers. Using a set of salad servers (or two large forks or two large spoons) toss as you would a salad, until the vegetables are thoroughly combined and coated in the sauce mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours to overnight. I'm here to tell you, overnight is best!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; paper towels; salad servers; plastic wrap
Cook's Note: If you add some toasted, chopped walnuts and peeled, diced apples, this makes for a wonderful "Waldorf Slaw". Also, this exact same vegetable mixture, prepped in the exact same manner, makes a wonderful slaw simply dressed with your favorite vinaigrette recipe.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)