Slow-Cooker Cabbage, Potatoes and Bacon

One of the best ways to appreciate cabbage and potatoes is straight from the slow cooker.

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You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy cabbage with potatoes, and while this is a great dish for St. Patrick’s Day, you can also enjoy it year-round.

And one of the best ways to appreciate cabbage and potatoes is straight from the slow cooker, after they've had a long simmer with bacon and Irish beer, of course. During the cooking process, the smoky, salty and umami bacon flavors melt into the cabbage and potatoes, and everything comes out perfectly cooked. The beer adds moisture and just makes the whole dish better.

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But there is a trick: You have to layer the ingredients in the right order. To avoid overcooked, mushy potatoes and to make sure the bacon flavors everything, you can't throw everything in the pot willy-nilly. Here’s how to layer right:

Bottom layer: Since the cabbage takes the longest to cook, place it in first, as the bottom of the crock is the largest heat source. Onions go in next — toss them with the cabbage so they add flavor throughout.

Middle layer: Here’s where the potatoes go, along with salt, pepper and sweet-savory anise-flavored caraway seeds.

Top layer: Bacon goes on top so its flavorful juices can drip down into the pot and make everything yummy.

Final touch: Pour Irish beer (or chicken stock) over everything.

Now, a word about the healthy ingredients in this hearty dish: White potatoes sometimes get a bad nutrition rap, but with the skins on, they pack a punch of fiber. Eating potatoes as part of a dish with a good amount of fiber helps lower the impact of potato starch on blood sugar. Potatoes contain the antioxidant vitamin C, as does cabbage; a serving of cooked cabbage has more than half the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Plus, this vegetable-based dish has a good amount of protein: 5 grams.

A wholesome pot of this would be a perfect main dish alongside Irish soda bread; it'd also be great served as a side with corned beef. During the summer, when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, pull out the slow cooker and serve this dish at a summer cookout — along with baked beans, grilled meats and, of course, a good Irish lager.

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Slow-Cooker Cabbage, Potatoes and Bacon
Yield: 6 servings
1 small cabbage, roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 strips center-cut bacon, chopped

8 ounces Irish lager beer, such as Harp (or reduced-sodium chicken stock)

Spray large slow-cooker crock with nonstick cooking spray. Place cabbage in bottom of slow cooker; add onion and toss gently.

Add potatoes, caraway seeds, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle potatoes with bacon. Pour beer over potatoes and bacon.

Cook for 3 hours on high setting, or 6 to 7 hours on low setting, until potatoes are tender. Stir gently before serving.

Per serving (1/6th of recipe): Calories 142; Fat 2 g (Saturated 1 g); Sodium 421 mg; Carbohydrate 24 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 5 g

Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com, sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making healthy, homemade meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.

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