We have made this with a pound of ground beef and also with 2 pounds. I prefer two pounds. The beef holds together better on a bottom layer. It is delicious either way.
We use a bagged shredded cabbage found in the salad aisle at the grocery store. It would be cheaper to shred your own cabbage, if you choose, but the pre-shredded cabbage makes the dish easier to throw together. It is up to you.
If you are rushed on time, you can skip the saute step and just add the cabbage, onion and seasonings directly to the ground beef. If you choose to skip this step, just omit the bacon fat from the recipe.
Since we eat low carb, we like to use Rao's marinara due to the low carb count. It is expensive, so feel free to just use your favorite marinara sauce but if you are eating low carb be aware that marinara sauces vary GREATLY in carb counts, so read labels to find the one that best fits your diet and budget.
We have made this recipe with 2 cups of sauce and with 3 cups of sauce. If you prefer a more tomato flavored sauce (as pictured), go with 3 cups. If you would prefer more of a creamy topping, reduce the sauce to 2 cups and wait to add your cream cheese until the end (see next note).
Many readers ask us if the cream cheese breaks down during long cooking times. In this dish the breakdown IS noticeable visually (I told ya she ain't pretty- ha!). So the choice is yours. The flavor is great either way. So, if you like the convenience of throwing it all in at the beginning, go for it. BUT if you want a creamier topping, wait to add the cream cheese until the end. I like to have it softened (either by leaving on the counter for a bit or microwave and stir it in at the end.
This recipe creates a lot of oil at the end of cooking. We just serve with a slotted spatula.
As with any of our recipes, carb counts, calorie counts and nutritional information varies greatly depending on which products you choose to use when cooking this dish.
All slow cookers cook differently, so cooking times are always a basic guideline and should always be tested first in your own slow cooker and time adjusted as needed.