The Coleslaw Question: Mayo or No Mayo?

Cook, Fire Smoke & Flavor, Regional Spotlight, Ultimate BBQ Sides

When it comes to barbecue, every dish opens a debate. Oak or hickory? Beef or pork? Sauce or no sauce? Only one thing is certain: the barbecue you grew up eating is always the best out there.

 

Coleslaw is the ultimate traditional accompaniment to barbecue, but even this cabbage mix varies between regions, with passions riding high about the Big Coleslaw Question: Mayo or no mayo?

 

The Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen developed two coleslaw recipes for our Fire Smoke & Flavor theme to top two different burgers—the Kansas City Burger is paired with a sweet, creamy slaw thickened with mayonnaise, buttermilk and sour cream, while the Carolina Sliders are covered in a thin, tangy slaw flavored with mustard and cider vinegar.

 

“Carolina BBQ tends to be more about the vinegar and the mustard,” says Test Kitchen cook Melissa Stewart. “And since we had two different burgers, we didn’t want to use the same slaw. We thought it would be fun to pair a lighter, vinegary slaw with a vinegary barbecue and then keep a more traditional, creamy slaw with the Kansas City burger.”

 

Needless to say, tasters all picked favorites and voiced their opinions immediately.

 

“Some people were really thrown by the Carolina burger,” admits Stewart. “If you’ve never had barbecue that’s really vinegary and mustardy, it’s a surprise. It’s a little bit brighter and more refreshing.”

 

No matter what kind of slaw you prefer, Stewart has a few tips:

  • Wilt the cabbage. “Throw some salt on it after you shred it, and let it sit in a colander and drain. Then give it a little rinse and dry it out. As the cabbage sits in a dressing, it will leech out a lot of liquid, and this way it won’t be as loose or watery.”
  • Let the coleslaw sit awhile. “I like to let the cabbage sit in the dressing for at least an hour so the flavors combine.”
  • Remember, your taste is personal. “It’s what you grew up with. Typically comfort food is pretty divisive; if it’s not like mom’s, it’s not quite right.”

 

 

Kansas City Coleslaw

 

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and cut into large chunks

Kosher salt, to taste

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tbs. sour cream

1 1/2 Tbs. white vinegar

1 Tbs. sugar

1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Place the cabbage in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer to a large colander, sprinkle lightly with salt and toss to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse the cabbage well with cold water and spin in a salad spinner to remove the excess moisture. Transfer to a large bowl, add the carrot and onion and toss to combine.

 

In a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, sugar and parsley until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 4.

 

Carolina Coleslaw

 

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and shredded

Kosher salt, to taste

5 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 Tbs. whole-grain mustard

2 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Place the cabbage in a large colander, sprinkle lightly with salt and toss to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spin the cabbage in a salad spinner or pat with paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Transfer to a large bowl, add the green onions and carrot and toss to combine.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Serves 4.

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