Thursday, May 21, 2009

slaw tartare

slaw tartare

I had great plans for our holiday weekends, my friends. We were all going to kick it off by making homemade hamburger buns that we could use right away, or stash in the freezer until the weather cooperates. Really, nothing should have been simpler. Most hamburger buns are an enriched white bread, which is ridiculously simple to make, and rolls are so much quicker to bake than large loaves. Because isn’t it funny how in this day and age where so many of us grind our own meats for our signature burger blends that we’re generally still getting those buns from a bag or bakery?

hamburger buns, duds

Well, eight hours of frustrated cooking later, I can tell you that the force was not with us, or at least nowhere within a mile radius of the dud recipe I chose. It took all of the flour (and the patience) I had to (barely) pull it together. It nearly overflowed in the bowl twice. The suggested height of the buns didn’t yield anything you’d want to prop a burger on (but perhaps some falafel, with its pita-like proportions) and the flavor was nothing spectacular. A few hours later, they were already stale (never a good sign). And thus it is with a heavy sigh that I tell you that this will not be the Smitten Kitchen-approved hamburger bun recipe I’d dreamed of. Stay tuned this summer: homemade hamburger buns will be mine. Ours.

red onioncornichoncaperstartar sauce

Thus, we’re going to be forced to talk about my summer barbecue obsession — slaw — again. Yep, That Smitten Slaw Lady strikes again! As if this site were shy of slaw inspirations, I was still unable to resist a new one, especially as it’s cloaked under the guise something else: tartar sauce. Yes, that stuff you serve with crab cakes and other fried seafood dishes, or if you’re French, you might mix it into your steak tartare. (Unfortunately as it may be named, it fortunately has little to do with visiting the dentist.) Most tartar sauces start with mayo, and if you’re lucky, a little Dijon mustard, and are jazzed up with pickles, capers, bits of onion, sometimes parsley, hard boiled egg or even horseradish.

grillingbrooklynlanternsburgers + tri-tip

And although fried seafood has never done it for me, just the thought of those ingredients together already has me ready for some outdoor eating. Who knew that if you start with a good sauce, jack it up with a few glugs of good vinegar and a pinch of sugar and toss it with some slivered cabbage that you’d have a slaw worthy of the best Friday-night rooftop barbecue. And you might even wish you’d brought more.

manhattanlights, projectsrooftop gardenwilliamsburg bridge

Slaws, previously: Broccoli Slaw, Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw, Dead Simple Slaw, Green Onion Slaw, Tangy Indian Cabbage Salad and then, as if this wasn’t enough, four more slaw recipes (Blue Cheese Slaw, Napa Cabbage Slaw, Radicchio Slaw and Pickled Coleslaw) in an article I did for NPR a couple years ago. Happy crunching!

One year ago: 30 Ways to Be a Good Guest

Slaw Tartare
Adapted from The Pearl Oyster Bar, Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pies

The original recipe uses a lot more mayo, but I wanted a chunkier dressing. You’ll probably have a bit of extra, depending on how “dressed” you like your slaws, so just use it to taste. And if you’re looking for a great tartar sauce recipe, just use the first six ingredients together, and hold the vinegar and cabbage.

Oh, and you just know I ought to have named this “tartar sauce slaw” but tartar is a word irrevocably tied with sharp dental objects and cringing. Yet everything sounds better in French.

1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped cornichons, plus 2 tablespoons of the juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise (the book recommends Hellmans, amusingly enough)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 cups julienned Savoy or green cabbage (or 3 cups red cabbage, julienned, and 2 cups green cabbage for a more colorful presentation)

Mix everything but the cabbage in a small bowl. In a larger one, toss the cabbage with as much dressing as you like. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerating a couple hours before serving allows the flavors to meld well, and the cabbage to soften slightly.


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