Friday, March 25, 2011

Cole Slaw with Cooked Dressing

This salad, much favored by badgers, predates mayonnaise and things like olive oil in the farm kitchen. If you are the kind of person who stays up at night wondering what cole slaw originally tasted like, this will answer your question.
I had been planning to make this for weeks. It's possible that the cabbage was left over from the corned beef and cabbage that we had before we had corned beef hash. Luckily, cabbage has wonderful keeping qualities. You just shave off the black parts and chop up the rest.
My husband has been leaving early all week, since the Congress of the United States has been having one of its "District Work Periods" i.e. hit lobbyists up for money times, so he got to leave at 5:00 like a civilized person. Normally, he leaves between 8:30 and 9:00 pm, so we keep European hours. But this past week, he did all the cooking, so we would actually be finished with dinner and washed up by 8:15.
Well, all good things must come to an end, including district work periods, so tonight, I made dinner and got around to the cole slaw with cooked dressing. Don't be afraid of the double boiler. The dressing takes around 15 to 20 minutes to thicken. Just keep the water under the double boiler, which, in my house is whatever bowl I can lay my hands on, sitting on top of one of my pots, just simmering. You don't want it at a rolling boil, but not boiling means the stuff does not thicken.
Luckily, I happened to have a Campbell's Soup can with a little bacon fat sitting on the counter. We actually don't eat that much bacon. Two weeks ago, when I was home sick for a day with a cold, I cooked some bacon that was hanging around in the refrigerator, and made a bacon sandwich, which was really good. And, I kept the drippings. Back in the Berkshires, my mother kept one of those old coffee cans, that is wider and shorter than today's coffee cans, on the back of the stove, and put all the bacon fat in it. After it was full, she put it in the freezer and brought it out in the wintertime to feed the birds. One year, she complained vociferously about starlings flinging bacon fat onto the siding of the house.
Anyhow, this recipe calls for bacon fat, and is the better for it.
If you are wondering about the badgers, my husband unearthed them in the depths of daughter's closet, which is slowly being emptied out and the contents taken to school for "store" where kids will presumably buy with play money whatever detritus the teachers bring in from their overloaded houses. In a fit of whimsy he arranged them around the cole slaw.

Cole Slaw with Cooked Dressing

Cooked Dressing
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red sweet pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt

1. To prepare cooked dressing, combine the egg and milk. In the top of a double boiler, mix together the flour, sugar, salt , mustard and cayenne. Stir in the milk mixture.
2. Cook over hot water, stirring until mixture thickens, Do not boil. Stir in the bacon drippings or butter and vinegar. Cool.
3. Combine the slaw ingredients in a bowl and toss well.
4. Stir in enough of the cooled dressing to moisten well.
Makes 8 servings.

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