At my first barbecue competition in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the old-timers who was cruising the grounds in a golf cart stopped to chat and then took me under his wing. We started to talk about food, as one deeply interested professional to another. "I'd love to show you my Walla Walla onions," he said with paternal pride. I'm always glad to taste someone's prize ingredients, and thankful for their sharing. I think my genuine appreciation of his gesture moved him. With the air of a seasoned veteran offering advice to a newcomer, he said, "If you want to win, think apple." I gave his advice some serious thought. Champion barbecuers often inject their creations with apple juice or slather them with apple jelly or both. So, as the saying goes, when in Rome . . . I microplaned some Granny Smith apples and added them to my board dressing, which was a new way of using an ingredient that the judges knew and liked. The technique has become my secret weapon for waking up barbecue flavors. This slaw is slightly acidic and tangy from the green apple. It has massive crunch and little flavor capsules of caraway. I love it with the Smoked Pork Shoulder with Lime Coriander Salt.
Combine the cabbage and bell peppers in a large bowl and mix well. Toss with the sugar and allow to macerate for 15 minutes.
For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the apples, watercress, shallots, chile pepper, scallions, dill, and parsley to the cabbage and peppers and mix well. Toss with the dressing to coat and serve.
Excerpted from Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012. Photographs by Simon Wheeler.