According to this seasoned Columbia chef, pickling is for rebels.
In the blazing heat of summer, nothing satisfies like barbecue—and every good barbecue cook has their own favorite seasoning blend. Although a barbecue rub is typically applied to meat, in Columbia, South Carolina, Zarah Newton of Black Rooster puts her spice blend to use in pickled cabbage, which makes it the ideal smoke-infused topper to add to summer sandwiches.
Newton, aka the Pickler, has made the kitchen her home since the age of 15, and at Black Rooster, where she’s the daytime sous chef, she is most distinguished by her nontraditional approach to pickling. “I started with your traditional brining and pickling cucumbers, and then it was just like, what if I do this? Why can’t I make Cheerwine pickles?” she says with a laugh. She has since produced a diverse assortment of pickled and fermented items, from a bloody mary pickle to a pickled hot dog, many of which show up on various plates at Black Rooster.
Newton makes this pickled cabbage with her homemade barbecue spice blend, but she says you can use your favorite store- bought blend, too. The cabbage goes with just about anything that’s coming off a sizzling grill. “[It’s] super good on a burger or a brisket sandwich, anything like that, or you could also eat it straight up,” Newton says. In that case, she suggests adding mayonnaise to turn it into a side of slaw. She also uses the barbecue seasoning to pickle shrimp, making this blend a spice drawer staple. Newton enjoys the freedom of putting whatever she wants inside her jars and encourages home picklers to allow their palate to be the chef: “It’s always building your own adventure.”
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- by Erin Byers Murray