There are many fine uses for mayonnaise, but coleslaw dressing ain’t one of ’em. Actually, it’s possible that somebody somewhere makes a decent mayo-based slaw, but that mound of gloppy white mush masquerading as coleslaw in deli departments and dive bars across the land? Kill me now.
What you want is a light, tangy dressing that clings ever-so-slightly to the slaw, a dressing whose flavor gradually seeps into every pore of the cabbage without diminishing its crispy, crunchy goodness. What you want is vinegar.
At least that’s what I want. And I want it fairly frequently, which is why I almost always have a jar of slaw dressing and a head of cabbage in the fridge. In addition to being the perfect companion to all manner of backyard fare — burgers, ribs, beer can chicken, pulled pork, fried fish. . .you get the idea, this slaw is ridiculously easy to make.
You dump some cider vinegar and vegetable oil into a pot; whisk in a bit of celery seed, ground mustard, and quite a lot of sugar; then bring the whole thing to a boil. While it cools, you finely slice some cabbage using a mandoline or — if you have recently sliced off a small bit of your thumb and your boyfriend has forbidden you to so much as look at the mandoline — a serrated knife. If you’re so inclined, you can also add some red onion. And seriously, that’s it. You pour the dressing over the cabbage, let it chill for an hour or so, and then dig in.
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2/3 c. vegetable oil (I use sunflower or safflower oil)
1 c. sugar
1 T. ground mustard
1 t. celery seed
1 t. salt
1 head of cabbage
1/2 c. red onion
1) Whisk together the first six ingredients in a medium saucepan. To dissolve sugar, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2) Peel any dirty or wilted leaves away from the cabbage, cut into quarters, and remove the core. Slice thinly — the cabbage will naturally fall apart into strips as you slice it.
3) Mince, dice, or slice the red onion and combine with the cabbage in a large bowl.
4) Pour the dressing over the cabbage and stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
*One of the many things I like about this recipe is that you can make a batch of dressing and store it in the fridge for future use, chopping up cabbage and onions as needed for slaw. I tend to make only one or two servings of actual slaw at a time.