If you follow my blog's Facebook page, then you know I finally bought a new slow cooker a few months ago and am totally in love! This is after at least of year without one, since my boyfriend accidentally broke my old Rival crock pot.
I kept it around afterward as a vessel for soaking dried beans and relied on my enameled cast-iron French Oven for stove top slow cooking, which worked just fine, but a slow cooker is so much easier. No babysitting involved since it's plugged into a wall versus leaving your stove on for hours at a time.
My Love/Hate Relationship with Slow Cookers
To be honest, part of the reason why I waited so long to replace it is because I didn't have an arsenal of slow cooker recipes that I loved.
In fact, I bore a slight stigma against crock pot meals for awhile, since many of the recipes I found online involved dumping a bunch of processed food ingredients (like canned condensed soups) into the pot and eating the end results, which tended to look like a casserole-esque slop.
Can you relate? I'm sure we've all eaten meals like this!
I've since learned to respect the slow cooker for its ability to cook the most succulent, tender meat like pulled pork and whole chicken, delicious homemade beans with plenty of onion and garlic, and even vegetable heavy dishes like this one with kielbasa sausage!
The Key to Tasty Slow Cooker Recipes
Since many slow cooker recipes are short and simple, it's vital to use the best quality ingredients and plenty of seasonings. I truly think that's the key to fixing a stellar meal or dish in a crock pot.
This kielbasa sausage, potatoes & veggies dish is no different. Take one look at the short ingredients list and you might assume that it's bland. Not so!
Why is this recipe any different? I made sure to add in a few key ingredients to give the dish plenty of flavor: thick-cut bacon, homemade chicken stock (this makes a HUGE difference), and seasonings.
The original recipe called for water, salt, and pepper. This works (and is a great option when you don't have any stock on hand), but requires you to ladle the veggies and meat out and eat them separate from the cooking liquid (and even then probably season the food more).
A Simple Kielbasa and Potatoes Recipe With Plenty of Flavor
When you replace the water with nutrient-dense chicken stock, throw in some bacon for some smoke and salt, and add extra spices, this infuses the veggies (particularly the potatoes) with a ton of flavor and gives you a delicious broth.
Cooked this way, the you can serve the meal as either a soup/stew or ladle out the sausage, potatoes, and veggies with a slotted spoon and serve them with your favorite sauce (I love homemade BBQ sauce or stone ground mustard) and sauerkraut.
As you can tell, I'm all about the flava flav in my real food recipes.
Slow Cooker Kielbasa Sausage, Potatoes & Veggies Recipe
An easy slow cooker recipe with kielbasa sausage, potatoes, veggies, spices, and homemade chicken stock. You can serve it as a stew with the yummy broth or ladle it out with a slotted spoon for a simple and hearty meal any time of the year.
Slightly adapted from this recipe by Get Crocked
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used russet)
1 1/2 medium onions, sliced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
2 slices of thick-cut bacon (uncooked), diced
1/2 - 1 pound of frozen organic green beans or mixed vegetables
Homemade chicken stock (enough to barely cover the potatoes)
1-2 pounds of kielbasa sausage
Seasonings, to taste:
cracked black pepper
sea salt (I used THIS)
crushed red pepper
Note: I used 8 ounces (1/2 lb) of frozen mixed veggies and only one pack of kielbasa sausage (1 lb) in my version, but thought it would be even better with more of both ingredients, which is why those amounts are flexible in the recipe above!
slow cooker (I have THIS ONE and LOVE it)
Peel and cube the potatoes, slice the onions as big or small as you like, dice the sweet bell pepper, and cut up the bacon into small chunks (tip - you can cut the bacon into pieces with scissors directly over the slow cooker to avoid getting any cutting boards dirty with raw meat). Place all of the above into the slow cooker. Pull the frozen veggies out and stick in a colander under running water for a minute, or until the ice melts, then dump into the slow cooker.
Sprinkle everything with cracked black pepper, sea salt, granulated garlic, and crushed red pepper. I like to be generous with my seasonings, but do keep in mind that crushed red pepper can get a bit spicy, so don't add too much at the beginning. Stir all the ingredients around so the seasonings are incorporated, then pour in enough chicken stock to just barely cover the potatoes. If you have any potatoes sticking out of the stock, push them down until they're submerged or add a bit more stock.
Cut the kielbasa rope in half lengthwise, then slice the sausage into chunks. I did 1-2 inch pieces, but you can make them smaller if you like. To keep more of the juices in the sausage as it cooks, place them with the casing side down directly on top of veggies and stock. In other words, don't submerge them! (Don't worry, the potatoes and veggies will still taste great with the seasonings and bacon mixed in.)
Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, which for me was about 3 1/2 hours on the high setting or 7-8 hours on low. When you're ready to eat, you can either serve it with the broth as a soup/stew OR use a slotted spoon and eat the veggies and sausage by their lonesome. Both ways are delish!
Notes & Tips
- Don't have any chicken stock on hand? You can substitute water instead; however, it won't taste as flavorful, so you'll probably want to add more spices!
- Store-bought chicken stock is handy in a pinch, but homemade chicken stock has WAY more depth of flavor and nutrients, so I recommend using that if you have any freshly made or in the freezer! Never made it homemade meat or veggie stock before? It's SO easy and inexpensive! Read my tutorial here.
Want more recipe inspiration? Check out my recipe index for more slow cooker recipes + many others!
I'd like to hear from you!
What's your favorite slow cooker recipe that involves a short and simple ingredients list?
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