It seems that creamy coleslaw has fallen out of favor. I think that if you only like vinegar-based coleslaw, then you’re eating the wrong creamy coleslaws. I didn’t like it before this recipe either. It was always too sweet or too watery or too heavy or too mushy. This recipe is none of that.
One key technique in this recipe is salting the cabbage and letting it set for an hour or so before mixing it with the dressing ingredients. The salt sucks water out of the cabbage so there’s less water to leach into the dressing. The cabbage has to be rinsed after being salted, which seems counterintuitive, but it’s easy to dry off the moisture outside of the cabbage shreds – there’s still less water in the cabbage, which is what will keep you from making a watery slaw.
Large shreds of cabbage keep this looking and feeling like a salad while eliminating any worries of mushiness. For those who think that creamy coleslaws tend to be too heavy, look at the ingredient list below – two thirds of the dressing base is low-fat buttermilk, with just a bit of mayonnaise and sour cream added for body and complexity of flavor.
I never liked creamy coleslaw growing up, and I still don’t usually like it at restaurants. But this recipe, with its creamy but not rich dressing, slight sweetness from the carrots and just half teaspoon of sugar, slight bite from the shallot, and overall balance of flavors is worth trying.
Especially if it’s an opportunity to use a fancy schmany monkey vegetable peeler. How cute is this guy? A friend got it for me, because, one could say, I have a bit of a thing for monkeys. (Or at least one.) And even better – it’s sharp. I love it.
Creamy Buttermilk Coleslaw (from Cooks Illustrated July 2002)
CI note: 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.
Bridget note: The recipe says to salt the cabbage for 1-4 hours, but I’ve had better results when I err on the long side of that range.
1 pound cabbage (about ½ medium head), red or green, shredded fine (6 cups)
1 medium carrot, shredded on box grater
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
½ teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ 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, ¼ 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.)