Thursday, 10 April 2014

Coleslaw - Southern-Style and Healthy

Delicious, crunchy, coleslaw, perfect with pulled pork, salad, in a sandwich, with a barbecue, on top of a jacket potato, or eat it on its own... whichever way you like it!

I made this to go with my pulled pork recipe (it's fantastic in a bun with pulled pork and barbecue sauce!), but if you're a fan of coleslaw then you already know how versatile it is - I'm having leftovers tonight with my Cajun chicken, and a nice fresh salad and the children had it in their lunchboxes, in cheese sandwiches... everyone loves it! I also have to be careful not to eat too much after I've just made it, as I love how fresh homemade coleslaw tastes, especially with the apple in it - and I don't like the huge, overpowering chunks of onion you get which overwhelm you in bought coleslaw.


The great thing about this recipe, is that you can make it as creamy as you like it, and add or substitute ingredients to suit your tastes (suggestions at the bottom in the Tips). Oh, and did I mention you can cheat and buy a bag of ready shredded coleslaw mix if you prefer? I've given you the basis for a nice crisp coleslaw, with a slight sweet and crunchy element from tart, Granny Smith apples and carrots, the tang of sweet white onions, and the crispness of shredded green cabbage (with a little red cabbage as well, if you like!) with a tasty dressing - it's up to you how much mayonnaise you add, if you're not counting the calories. I'm not one for a 'sloppy slaw' (one of the reasons I've used nice thick Greek yoghurt alongside the mayonnaise, rather than buttermilk), but when you've made it up with my suggested quantities, you can just keep going with the mayonnaise until it's the consistency you like. [Calories in square brackets, if you're counting].

Calories per 50g serving: 60 for full fat version, 27 for light version (extra-light mayo and 0% fat Greek yoghurt).  (Total weight, approximately 1,190g, total calories 888 for full fat version, 475 for extra light mayo, fat free yoghurt version).

  • 1/2 white cabbage (500g - or use a mixture of white and red for contrast, majority white and mix the red in just before serving) [160]
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (220g) [57]
  • 1 small sweet white onion (100g - they have whitish skins, rather than brown - look out for them; although a red or brown-skinned white onion will do, just use a little less) [38]
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (200g after removing the cores - optional, the apple element is my preference, it's not something generally found in Southern slaw, but I like to add it for the sweetness, rather than adding in sugar to my dressing, but do this if you prefer) [106]

For the dressing (double this up if you like it creamy)
  • 60g mayonnaise (use light [178 cals] or extra light [44 cals] if you prefer) [433]
  • 70g Greek yoghurt* (e.g. Total - use 0% if you prefer, for 43 calories - this is instead of buttermilk, see tips - *for dairy-free use a dairy-free yoghurt substitute, or all mayonnaise and adjust the calories) [67]
  • 1 heaped tsp (10g) dijon mustard (the smooth variety, e.g. Grey Poupon, Maille) [15]
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar [3]
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice [4]
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste [1]
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed (entirely optional, this is one of the Southern parts) [4]

I'd highly recommend using a food processor to make this, to speed up the process by using the fine-slicing blade/disc to shred the cabbage, and the coarse-grating blade/disc for the carrot, onion and apple. If you're feeling incredibly lazy and you don't want to chop your own vegetables, you can even buy yourself a bag of ready-shredded coleslaw ingredients (e.g. two 300g bags, or halve the sauce ingredients for one bag), and simply grate (or fine-julienne on a mandolin) a couple of sharp green apples into it.

Remove the outer few leaves, then cut the cabbage (half) into wedges and remove the tough inner core, then finely shred with a knife, or by feeding it through the top of a food processor over the fine-slicing disc (my preference for speed!). Whether you finely julienne (cut into strips the thickness of a match) or coarsely grate the rest of the ingredients is entirely down to your taste and aesthetic preferences. Coarsely grating is easiest and quickest done through a food processor, once you've peeled the carrots and onion, and quartered the onion. You don't need to peel the apple. If you want to finely julienne the vegetables, a mandolin is easiest (unless you have a blade on your food processor).

For the dressing, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly - a quick whisk is good for this. I don't add salt to this for three reasons - firstly because there is already salt present in the mayonnaise, secondly because salt draws out the liquid from the vegetables, meaning you'll have a pool of liquid gathering in the bottom of your slaw from 1/2 an hour onwards (and it's nice to keep for a few days), and thirdly, because I'm generally going to eat it as a side dish with something else which has been seasoned. So I don't think it's really necessary, or at least not until after you've tasted the final slaw, if you really want some.

Thoroughly mix the dressing and vegetables together, until the vegetables are completely evenly coated. This is a light dressing, and is not going to look like the kind of saucy, sloppy stuff you buy from the shops, so give it a taste and see what you think... then if you want more 'sauce', (and you're not counting the calories), add more mayonnaise (or dairy products) until you're happy with the consistency, taste it, and add salt, more vinegar/lemon juice as desired, and serve.

Coleslaw in a bun with my slow-cooked, smoky, pulled pork with home-made barbecue sauce.

Coleslaw with cajun chicken and salad (recipe for cajun mix here, and the delicious, moist-looking chicken was cooked sous vide on this occasion, method to follow here in a link shortly, before being seared in Cajun spices).

Buttermilk is not easy to get hold of in the UK. If you want a substitute, you can use 4 parts plain yoghurt, to 1 part milk (e.g. 200ml yoghurt to 50ml milk), or equal quantities of Greek yoghurt to milk, or even acidulate some milk (add 1tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar per 250ml whole or semi-skimmed milk), stir it thoroughly and then leave to stand for 5 minutes before using in your recipe.

Feel free to chop and change your ingredients... a teaspoon of caraway seeds, or lightly crushed fennel seeds add a nice depth of flavour. Other finely julienned vegetables such as celeriac, mooli/daikon (white radish), kohlrabi, beetroot make a nice change, as do finely sliced red or green peppers (half to one), celery or mangetout. Herbs such as chives and parsley, or even tarragon, dill or coriander (depending on what you're serving it with) can give it an interesting flavour, as can adding other elements to the dressing such as orange or lime juice instead of lemon, different mustards (including wholegrain), or even horseradish or wasabi. Throw in a handful of chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pecans etc.) or toasted seeds for another texture, or even raisins or chopped firm fruit, halved grapes, chopped pineapple or orange segments.

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