If you're pressed for time but still want a home-cooked meal at the end of a busy workday, you might be wondering if there are any easy "fix it and forget it" meals you can make. The good news is, as long as you have a slow cooker, you can always make dinner ahead of time and have it waiting for you when you get home.
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Not only are slow cookers easy to use, the meal possibilities are endless. You can make everything from hearty soup and spaghetti sauce to enchiladas and sweet and sour chicken.
One slow-cooker meal that's sure to be a hit any time of the year is slow-cooked ham and cabbage. These two popular ingredients are a staple in many slow cooker recipes, but what's so special about cooking ham and cabbage together?
Well, for starters, slow-cooking cabbage with ham allows the cabbage to become soft and juicy and take on the salty, savory flavors of the ham. Plus, you can add just about anything to this one-pot wonder including chopped potatoes, carrots and onions. The extra ingredients turn this favorite Irish dish into a hearty meal with a twist.
Use a slow cooker on a low setting and cook the cabbage, vegetables and ham for five to seven hours or to your preferred taste. The flavor of crisp, white cabbage blends well with ham. However, you can also use a combination of cabbages including white, green or red — also known as purple cabbage. Consider using half of a white cabbage and half of a red cabbage, making the dish more colorful and rich in antioxidants.
Chop, Prep and Stir
Add the ham chunks, chopped cabbage, onions, carrots and potatoes to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the mixture with thyme, parsley and pepper and stir lightly. This is also a good time to add any additional ingredients such as lentils, sausage, chopped green beans and celery to the mixture.
If you want a little variety with the ham and cabbage combination, change-up the other ingredients each time you make it. For example, instead of carrots use green beans or swap out potatoes for lentils.
Add Stock and Cook
Pour the chicken stock and water over the ham-and-vegetable mixture. Slow-cook the ingredients on low heat for five to seven hours, covered. The vegetables should be very tender when finished. Make sure and check the internal temperature of the ham before serving. It should be at least 145 degrees F.
Spoon up individual servings in bowls and allow to cool for a few minutes before eating. You can add steamed asparagus, french bread and a green salad on the side for an extra hearty meal.