Barbecue Slaw (Red Slaw) is a condiment commonly served on hot dogs, on barbecue pork sandwiches, as a side dish for other types of barbecue, on hamburgers, or with other foods. It is an essential part of “Lexington Style” North Carolina barbecue.
Red slaw is different from traditional coleslaw in that it does not use mayonnaise as an ingredient, allowing it to be stored for longer periods without refrigeration and making it more suitable for outdoor serving. It is made with green cabbage, vinegar and ketchup, giving it the characteristic colour. In addition to being a staple part of Lexington style barbecue, it is also common in other portions of the Southeastern United States and is considered a staple. In these regions, regular coleslaw may be called “white slaw” to differentiate it from red slaw.
Recipes vary widely and may include other ingredients, such as onion, sugar, black pepper, mustard seed and other spices, depending on the region in which it is being served.
In the late 1990s, Wendy’s sold the “Carolina Classic Burger” which was a traditional hamburger with red slaw, onions, chilli and American cheese, going so far as to trademark the name.
For the barbecue slaw
- 1 large head green cabbage, about 1½ kg, finely shredded
- 1 large carrot, peeled,grated
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup kosher salt
For the dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature.
For the barbecue slaw
- Combine cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with sugar and salt and toss to combine.
- Let stand five minutes, then transfer to a large colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
- Transfer vegetables to a salad spinner and spin dry. Alternatively, transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and blot mixture dry with more towels. Return to large bowl.
- Pour cooled dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or sugar