I love coleslaw, really good homemade coleslaw. I love it in a big bowl next to a burger, I love it on a barbecue sandwich, I love it on a turkey sandwich with swiss cheese and russian dressing, I love it on a hot dog with chili and onions. When I was 16, I went to Russia for two weeks and I swore I'd never eat cabbage again, but as it turns out, it was a promise I couldn't keep.
Coleslaw: it's easy to do, but the flip side of that is that it's easy to do badly. Yucky store-bought dressing, under-chopped, leathery cabbage, watery, weepy salad.
So, here are the rules of engagement: homemade dressing. Finely chopped cabbage, salted. They're small things, but coleslaw, by nature, is simple. If it's simple, it has to be pretty much awesome.
I like America's Test Kitchen's recipe, so here it is. It suggests patting the coleslaw dry with paper towels; I think that's a bad idea. I use a salad spinner.
Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
If you are planning to serve the coleslaw immediately, rinse the salted cabbage in a large bowl of ice water, drain it in a colander, pick out any ice cubes, then pat the cabbage dry before dressing.
1 pound cabbage (about 1/2 medium head), red or green, shredded fine (6 cups)
1 medium carrot , shredded on box grater
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 small shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Toss shredded cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt in colander or large mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Rinse cabbage under cold running water. Press, but do not squeeze, to drain; pat dry with paper towels. Place wilted cabbage and carrot in large bowl.
2. Stir buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, shallot, parsley, vinegar, sugar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper together in small bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage and toss to combine; refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Coleslaw can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)