Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Snacking State-by-State: Missouri II - The Show Me Slaw!

Cole slaw: it's one of those unassuming yet still classic of American dishes.  And it exists in many forms: creamy, vinegary, boiled or non-boiled dressings, with or without sugar, with big slivers or small bits of cabbage, with red or green or even Chinese cabbage, with a very few ingredients or with many, and even some varieties from outside our country (such as the simple curtido variety brought in by Salvadorans and easily found in any Central American community in the DC region).  And anyone can tell you that cole slaw is the quintessential barbecue side dish.

Official Name: State of Missouri
State Nicknames: The Show-Me State
Admission to the US: August 10, 1821 (#24)
Capital: Jefferson City (15th largest)
Other Important Cities: Kansas City (largest), St. Louis (2nd largest), Springfield (3rd largest), Independence (4th largest)
 Midwest, South; Wet North Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCorn Bread & BBQBison
Bordered by:
  Iowa (north); Illinois and the Mississippi River (east); Kentucky and Tennessee (southeast); Arkansas (south); Oklahoma (southwest); Kansas (west); Nebraska (northwest)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: Eastern black walnut (tree nut); channel catfish (fish); Norton/Cynthiana grape (grape); bobwhite quail (game bird); crayfish (invertebrate)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Midwestern and German foods to the north, Southern and Ozark foods to the South and in the center of the state; Kansas City BBQ (sweet BBQ sauce, with dry rub before barbecuing), gooey butter cake

Marcia Adams notes in her Heartland cookbook - the definitive Midwestern cookbook that I keep coming back to for this project - that Midwestern cole slaw dressing is typically sweet and creamy.  This is how I like it, and this is the cole slaw I ended up making (I have a lot of left over mayonnaise I need to use up).  But a small contingent in Missouri and other parts of the Midwest like the boiled variety, which is unfamiliar to me.
In Missouri, as it is nearly everywhere in the Midwest, cole slaw is mostly creamy style... but there is a school of slaw makers who still prepare a boiled dressiing: the early forerunners of commercial bottled salad dressings like Miracle Whip.  It is a tradition worth reviving.  Laced with dry mustard, boiled dressing is good on potato salad: thinned with additional cream, it can also be served with roast pork, ham or fish [Adams 1991: 166]
Her boiled dressing, and the adaptation I followed for the typical non-boiled creamy version, are on page 166 of her Heartland cookbook.  And yes, it is a lovely accompaniment to the Kansas City style spare ribs I made in the last post.

The recipe: Creamy Cole Slaw

To make this cole slaw without the boiled dressing you will need to replace all the eggs and flour and mustard and olive oil and cream with three things: mayonnaise (I used Duke's, which I have a whole lot of right now), sugar and apple cider vinegar.  You will add that to the following:

* cabbage (I used Savoy because it was a much smaller head - in retrospect I will just use plain green cabbage; Savoy makes a pretty cole slaw, though not a terribly crunchy one.  Use it if you don't demand crunch in your cole slaw)
* parsley (no fresh on hand so I just used some of the dried - but do try to use fresh)
* carrot (shredded)
* celery (finely chopped)
* onion (also finely chopped)
* green bell pepper (yup - finely chopped)
* celery seed, mustard seed and ground black pepper (had all on hand)

Shred the cabbage as finely as you can (or as finely as your brain can stand), and finely chop or shred the other vegetables.

Mix together all the non-dressing ingredients, and then add the mayo, sugar and vinegar.  Stir until well-blended.  It's easier to mix the dressing first instead of adding the separate ingredients.  (Note to self: read the whole recipe over again before adding your ingredients).

Though not as creamy or as sweet as my grandmother's cole slaw, this is still a pleasant slaw.  I wish I had used the more standard green cabbage which Adams likely would have recommended as well.  Adams notes that you can make this up to a day ahead.  I have been eating this along with the ribs, and though it is a bit messy to hold the fork (as it always is - it is barbecue after all), it still provides a nice crunch even with the Savoy cabbage.


Adams, Marcia. Heartland: The Best of the Old and the New from Midwest Kitchens. Clarkson Potter: New York, 1991.

Bittman, Mark.  "For a Smoky Taste in Oven Ribs".  The New York Times website.  Published: December 4, 2009.

Goldwyn, Craig "Meathead".  "A taxonomy of American barbecue sauces".  Amazing Ribs website.  Last revised September 12, 2011.

Lee, Jennifer 8. "St. Paul Sandwiches (in St. Louis), Made with Egg Foo Young Patties".  The Fortune Cookie Chronicles website.  Published April 8, 2009.

"noahw" ( user).  "Oven Smoked Ribs". website.  Copyright 2011.

Oland, Sydney.  "Sunday Brunch: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake".  Serious Eats website.  Published May 28, 2011.

Raichlen, Steve.  How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques.  Workman Publishing: New York, 2001.

STLToday.  "St. Paul Sandwich (Fortune Express)".  STLToday website.  Published August 17, 2011.

Stradley, Linda. "Gooey Butter Cake". What's Cooking America website.  Copyright 2004.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Missouri" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Missouri".