Pool Room Slaw straddles a lot of lines: It’s a bit fresh coleslaw, a bit pickled chowchow, a bit north Alabama, a bit middle Tennessee. One line pool room slaw doesn’t cross: it’s not a cool, creamy, mayo-swaddled salad designed to cut the spice from other foods. Though it’s served cold, this slaw gets heat-and plenty of it- from two sources: yellow mustard’s sharpness and as much red pepper as you dare. The slaw’s ambiguity plays out well in the kitchen too. Finely grate the vegetables, and you have an almost relishlike dish that can do double duty as a side or a topper for burgers, barbecue, or hot dogs, the traditional accompaniment in pool halls across the rural central South. Shred instead, and you’re in more traditional and familiar coleslaw-as-salad territory.
Pool Room Slaw
Makes 3 Quarts | Serves 24
A versatile side that doubles as a burger or hot dog topper, too
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards
1 head green cabbage
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
4 carrots, peeled
1 Vidalia onion, quartered
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup yellow mustard
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 to 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Fit a food processor with the shredding (or grating) blade. Cut the cabbage into wedges that will fit through the feed tube of the processor and shred or grate. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the bell peppers, carrots, and onion. Transfer each batch to the bowl with the cabbage; set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, yellow mustard, salt, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and red pepper flakes over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the shredded vegetables to the hot liquid, stirring gently to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the slaw and liquid to a large crock or container, let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving to allow the flavors to meld.