Whole30 Day 29: Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage

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I rarely have time to make a big production out of my meals. Between work and parenting (and blogging and app development and — shh! — a new secret project), my cup runneth over. I’m not about to make a special weeknight trip to the market to hunt down some exotic ingredients for a complicated new recipe I found in a cookbook.

Instead, when pressed for time (which is just about always), I rummage through my pantry and fridge and MacGyver something together. And that usually involves some handy-dandy Emergency Protein™. (Who says I can’t trademark that?)

There are plenty of ways to quickly cook up a batch of Emergency Protein. My iPad cookbook app shows off a method for slow-roasting meats in an oven, and you can always just throw a steak on the grill or water oven. Leftovers can form the basis of a super-simple Emergency Protein meal, too. For example, on Saturday night, Henry reheated some leftover Slow Cooker Kalua Pig, paired it with a variation on Cauliflower Fried “Rice,” and voila! Dinner was on the table in minutes.

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All out of leftovers? If you have a Defrost Bowl™ in your refrigerator, this shouldn’t post a problem at all. (What? You got a problem with me trademarking that, too?)

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Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about my Defrost Bowl, but there’s really nothing all that magical about it. It’s just a big bowl in my fridge that I use to thaw a bunch of frozen meat. (Note: It’s a bowl — not a colander. I certainly don’t want to clean up the bloody goo that inevitably oozes out of my packages of meat.) Every few days, I transfer some frozen protein from my freezer to my trusty Defrost Bowl; then, when it’s time to get cooking, I grab whatever Emergency Protein is no longer icy, and then decide on a cooking method.

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My Defrost Bowl serves another purpose, too: It forces me to cook my meat before it spoils, and keeps me from stuffing my face with take-out. Win-win!

One of my all-time favorite ways to whip up supper in a flash using Emergency Protein is to make a Garbage Stir-Fry™. (Yes, I’m trademarking EVERYTHING. That’s my secret project.)

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Keep reading, and I’ll show you how to make a fragrant and zesty Garbage Stir-Fry with ground meat, curry, and cabbage. Don’t worry about the name – I call it Garbage Stir-Fry, but once you taste it, you won’t want to throw any of it away.

I always keep ground meat in my Defrost Bowl. It’s budget-friendly, versatile, and perfect for stir-frying. Combine it in a hot, greased skillet with alliums, spices from the pantry, and whatever vegetables you have lingering in your refrigerator, and you’ll soon have a big batch of food that you can shovel into your mouth whenever necessary.

Here’s what you’ll need to make 4 servings of Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee or fat of choice
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork, lamb, or whatever high-quality meat suits your fancy
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Juice from ½ lime

Here’s what to do:

Heat the ghee in a large cast iron skillet, and cook the onions until they’re soft and translucent.

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Add the ground meat to the onions in the skillet.

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Break it up with a wooden spoon, and stir-fry until the pink’s gone.

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Sprinkle the curry powder on the contents of the skillet, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate.

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Toss in the cabbage, and cover and cook for 2 minutes or until the cabbage softens.

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Add a spritz of lime juice, and taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

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Done and done!

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Remember: this is just one example of how you can throw together a Garbage Stir-Fry. You could easily substitute your favorite seasoning blend for the curry, or a couple of cups of fresh or frozen vegetables for the cabbage. Don’t be afraid to improvise. Just sample the food as you cook, and stop seasoning when it tastes right.

Tell me: What do you like to put in your Garbage Stir-Fries?


Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).