Coleslaw is an essential barbecue side dish. The words “slaw” and barbecue mean different things to different people. But this barbecue “bestie” is a guaranteed side-dish winner.
Now, barbecue means different things to different folks. Barbecue could be smoking meats, meaning lower heat and longer cooking times. It could be grilling - cooking meat over a hotter flame until done, steaks in 5 to 10 minutes, whole chickens in an hour or so. For some, it’s the sauce that’s put on the grilling meat that makes it barbecue. And for others still, it could be a combination of any of these ideas.
For me, barbecue is all of these things. Now, maybe sometimes it’s just grilling, but like the change in names of whether Coke is a soda or a pop or a soda-pop. For me, barbecue is cooking meat on a flame, whether it’s technically smoking, grilling or barbecue, I just want a delicious, meaty meal.
However, a common theme throughout is meat, a Meat-Feast. It could be pork, beef, chicken or fish. A combination of pork sausage, brisket, pork loin, steak, chicken thighs and fish fillets - sounds about right. But all those meats, although delicious, make me think of the heavy after effects of such a meal. After a meat-feast, I feel weighed-down and slow, more than I usually would.
So, now that my idea of what I call barbecue is well-established, let's talk about sides. My favorite barbecue joints offer the usual choice of sides – corn bread, coleslaw, beans, sweet potato fries and regular fries. Of all the choices available, I always opt for coleslaw. It’s the side that cuts through the heaviness of the meat and one that I feel always helps refresh the palate. I know after eating a couple ribs smothered in sauce, I need something to perk up the taste buds.
The varieties of coleslaw available are varied as well. Some of them creamy and some of them vinegary and tart. The one I have always enjoyed and loved the best with my barbecue is a homemade version that attempts to duplicate the tastes of a well-known chain.
I am already doing enough chewing with my meat, I don’t need to crunch through the vegetable patch as well.
A few years ago, I bought an electric chopper to help make sauces and finely chop onions and garlic. It works perfectly here to get the cabbage down to the size I like. The variations in size and flavors you decide for your own tastes, are of course encouraged.
I think of recipes as suggested guidelines, at least in normal everyday cooking. Recipes that require chemical reactions, like baking, should be more strictly adhered to, but in most of my recipes, do what tastes good for you.
½ Large Head of Round Cabbage (or as pictured 2 small squat cabbage heads)
1 medium large carrot
1 medium onion
A cup of your favorite Mayonnaise
¼ - ¾ Cup Sugar
¼ to ¾ Tablespoon of Salt
¼ - ½ Cup of Milk (Buttermilk is suggested, but I never buy it because the remainder always goes to waste)
1-2 Tablespoons of Lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Separately, finely chop all of the vegetables. If you like a coleslaw with larger pieces, then cut it to your liking, but I definitely prefer a smoother, even consistency.
If you want larger pieces of cabbage, make sure you still finely shred or chop the carrot and onion so their flavors better incorporate into the mix. Depending on the potency of the onion, you may want to use less, as the flavor will intensify over time. Also, take the onion and put it either in cheesecloth or a clean, unscented dishtowel, ring out the extra liquid in the onions or it will add too much juice to the coleslaw and you want the flavors of the onion more than anything.
Mix all the vegetables together in a big bowl.
Separately, mix the “dressing” ingredients in another bowl. Use the minimum amount of ingredients first and then add to it what you think it is lacking or needs more of. Remember, this is the potent version of it without the vegetables, but you are tasting for hints of all the major flavors of sweet, bitter, salty and sour.
You can adjust and add more of the ingredients later, just remember you can’t take them back once you put them in. And as I am always concerned about sodium, I tend to use less salt. Remember, this is the dish that I like to accompany my barbecues, so I am looking for a refreshing zing and not an overly creamy and sugary side dish. But you make it for how you like it.
I like to let it sit for a few hours and thoroughly mix again before serving. I think it’s just a perfect dish to balance a meat-feast. Barbecued meats and Coleslaw the “Barbecue Bestie” are about all I need to have a full meal. Delicious!
Hope you can enjoy it with family and friends during one of your own meat-feasts.
This “Killer Slaw” goes great with my other marinade and grilling recipe for “Killin' the Grillin' Perfect Barbecue Chicken”. Check it out if you're in the mood for a mouthwatering, juicy chicken meat-feast.