Listen to me say the word “slaw” and think about the first thing that comes to your mind. Does it bring to mind small bits of shredded cabbage, maybe bits of carrot here and there? Is it overdressed in a creamy, flavorless mayonnaise-y sauce or has it been drowned in vinegar and oil? Is it curiously devoid of any basic seasoning, like salt or pepper? Does its wilted presence in your brain make you feel sad? I’m sorry.
This should make you feel happier. Imagine for a minute a slaw which wasn’t any of those things. Not boring, not bland, not overdressed and not tiny by any means. Vegetables that are chopped – chopped! – instead of grated to an almost-pulp. Flavor coming at you from both the slaw and the dressing. A slaw you could serve as a legitimate side dish, or even a salad, and not just as an afterthought.
Now, don’t get me wrong; i secretly love that classic side-dishy, tiny ramekin of slaw. I do. It is what it is and sometimes that’s great. it’s almost kitschy and that’s always going to be okay in my book. But sometimes you need a slaw that stands up to whatever it’s being served with. Like when slaw is called for on sandwiches; you don’t want to sog up a perfectly good reuben with drippy slaw, right? Shouldn’t you be able to make a slaw for a summer party that eats like an actual salad? And don’t you crave a slaw that’s memorable?
This slaw can be all of those things for you. You chop everything, from cabbage to carrots, so you end up long on crunch and short on tiny shredded bits. The dressing is a creamy one that gets its bite from a good dose of jalapeno juice and a splash of tabasco. Really, you say; jalapeno juice and tabasco. Don’t worry that this is a “spicy” slaw. There’s something about the balance of the creamy elements against the hot ones that give it the perfect snappy taste, minus any discernible heat. Now, I will say there are jalapenos in the actual salad, but if you want to leave those out, feel free. I ended up leaving the red onion out of my slaw, but only because I feel like red onions have been particularly strong for me as of late, and I didn’t want to overpower everything else. If you include them (and I included them in the recipe), let me know how it turns out.
This ended up being so addictive for me. The secret, if you want to make it last for a few days, is to only mix the dressing and the slaw itself together when you’re ready to serve it. I made a half-recipe of this for a get-together and left the other half unchopped, reserving my remaining half of the dressing in the fridge. I ate the remaining servings for lunch for the next few days, chopping as I went. It worked perfectly. A few times I omitted the jalapeno and threw in an apple, chopped into matchsticks and skin-on, which was a really nice addition as well.
This makes a HUGE bowlful, just so you know. So it’s great for big parties or picnics. a half-recipe should cover you for smaller dinners and lunches and would easily (and generously) serve 6-8 people as a side dish, in my opinion. See note at the bottom for a good way to reserve some to use for leftovers.
Adapted from American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini. Which has proven to be a really great book so far, let me tell you. Why is it called “Anthony’s Slaw” when it’s in Andrew’s book? He got the recipe from Anthony Uglesich, proprietor of Uglesich’s in New Orleans, Louisiana.
for the slaw:
- 1 medium head green cabbage (maybe 3 1/2 lbs)
- 1 small head purple cabbage (optional, by the way: i used mine for color)
- 2-3 small carrots, quartered and sliced thin (i did them matchstick-ish)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin (i did not use, but you are more than welcome to)
- 6 pickled jalapenos, or honestly, however many you want, from the jar. You can purchase the whole ones or the pre-sliced ones.
for the dressing:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
- 1/2 cup juice from the pickled jalapenos
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
to finish the dish:
- kosher salt (or sea salt) and fresh ground black pepper
to make the slaw:
Cut off the step of the cabbage and peel off the outside leaves, removing any brown pieces. Using a large knife, slice the cabbage into quarters. Cut away the core on the inside of each quarter. Then slice each quarter right through the layers, making thin ribbons of cabbage. Pile the cabbage in a large bowl. Repeat the process with your purple cabbage, if you’re using it.
Slice the carrots as thin as possible; it’s not difficult to do and it works much better than shredding. If you are using the red onion, slice thinly and add both the carrots and red onion to the bowl.
If you purchased whole pickled jalapenos, cut the ends off them and slice each jalapeno lengthwise. Cut away the core and remove the seeds. Slice each jalapeno crosswise into small thin pieces and add them to the bowl. If you do what I did and purchased pickled jalapeno slices, gather up the equivalent of about 6 whole jalapenos, rough chop them, and add them to the bowl. Congratulate yourself for saving some time.
to make your dressing:
so easy: in a medium-sized bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, celery seed, jalapeno juice, mustard, Tabasco, salt and pepper. whisk all the ingredients together until they form a smooth liquid. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve.
to finish the slaw/serve your dish:
Pour dressing over your slaw, mixing it very well with either your hands or large utensils until well incorporated and all the vegetables are coated; you don’t want dry pockets or dressing puddles. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
A note about leftovers: if you know you won’t be using the mountain of slaw you will have in front of you, don’t mix it all together because you will have soggy, sad leftovers. This is very much like a lettuce-based salad in that it will not keep. but! if you want to reserve things to use for the next day or so, i would do the following:
- prep everything, then keep the items separated in groups. store your cabbage in an airtight container (like a freezer bag or plastic container) in the fridge, keeping the onion separate and the jalapenos in their jar.
- the dressing can stay in its container as well.
separated properly, your slaw should keep for several days.