I recently decided it was time to upgrade my crock pot. My old machine worked admirably with very simple controls (basically low or high with on or off being determine by whether the plug was in or out of the wall). Lately, I wasn’t sure it was getting hot enough at the low setting and I figured any uncertainty in this situation might not be a good thing. And Costco had a good deal. It was all of the incentive I needed.
Sadly, the first pot had a chip missing from the ceramic bowl. I was just going to live with it, but it started to bother me until finally I had to take it back to get a new one. I knew I’d have to face holiday shopping crowds — not my favorite — so I was trying to just live with it, but even when something is inexpensive, you still want it to be new. I will probably chip it on my own, eventually. Eventually.
So, now armed with a second new crock pot, I decided to try what seemed like a super simple recipe for sausages and cabbage cooked in a slow cooker. It’s important to note, I think, that this is not really a “put it in and go to work all day and then come home and eat it” kind of slow cooker recipe. This one assumes you’re going to stir it every couple of hours. I did my first stir at the half way point (3 hours in), and there were some overly browned bit of cabbage that had to be fished out. This is good for a lazy weekend day when you don’t want to monitor anything very closely, but you will be around and will occasionally walk by and think to stir it.
The original recipe was off of the food 52 website.
As always, I didn’t follow it exactly but did a little tweaking. For starters, I didn’t have three apples. I had one granny smith apple that was starting to get a little “long in the tooth,” but I decided that chopping in a couple of large carrots would also provide sweetness in place of the missing two apples. I also thought it would be nice to have something other than just cabbage as the main vegetable. Coincidentally, I had purchased juniper berries recently on a trip to a spice shop. I’m not really sure why I did it except for my friend who had planted the idea of juniper in my head. I was delighted to see that they were part of the recipe and I’d recommend getting them if you can, but the main flavor really came from the caraway seeds, so if you don’t have juniper, I’m not sure you’d miss it. The only other tip would be to use small hot-dog-sized sausages cut in half (via the stubby middle, not lengthwise) rather than the longer polish sausages shaped like a horseshoe. I had a bit of the latter left over from something else I made, and they didn’t hold up as well in the crock pot as the stubby sausages with more of a casing. The texture was better on the shorter sausages. Next time I’m not sure I’d even cut them in half. They split anyway during the cooking and leaving them whole might have even made the texture better.
It’s super easy — just slice the cabbage thinly (I used a whole head of savoy cabbage), chop in some onion, apple, and in my case carrot. Add in one clove of minced garlic (I did two large cloves) and then salt, and small amounts of apple cider vinegar, mustard (I used what I had, not the grainy type they mention) and brown sugar (see recipe for amounts — here I followed directions). Because I had fewer apples, I worried about liquid so to my version I splashed in a little white wine I had open but I could have used broth or even water. I added in about 5 smashed juniper berries and the caraway. I tried stirring, but it was pretty full at first, so I didn’t try too hard and just nestled in the sausages on top.
At that point, it’s just time, and an occasional stir. I’d recommend checking it after an hour or 90 minutes, but as I said, I neglected it until hour 3 due to a need to be out of my house. Not fatal, but I did fish out some extra brown (not burnt, but not pretty) bits.
By the time 6 hours had passed, it was awesome. The cabbage/apple/carrot/onion mixture was very tender, very soft, and really delicious in combination with the sausages. Served with an assortment of mustards (the poupon, a spicy sweet version and hot Chinese mustards) and a side of mashed potatoes and celery root, we had a lovely Sunday evening feast.