Joe’s Special (Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms)

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Photography Credit: Coco Morante

Have you ever heard of Joe’s Special? This is a classic San Francisco diner dish dating back to the 1920s. It’s a hearty scramble of eggs, ground beef, spinach, mushrooms, and onions.

This scramble is great any time of day, but in my house growing up, we always had it for dinner, with thick slices of San Francisco sourdough bread alongside.

Back in the 80’s, my dad used frozen spinach, canned mushrooms, and granulated garlic in his version of Joe’s Special. The mushrooms were optional at the diner, but my dad always included them.

The recipe I make now is a fresh and modern take on my dad’s version. I use fresh baby spinach, sliced crimini mushrooms, and lots of fresh diced garlic. I buy the bags of triple-washed baby spinach, which are almost as convenient as frozen spinach.

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and MushroomsThe whole thing cooks in one skillet, with the vegetables, meat, and eggs cooked one after the next. So easy and fast!

First, cook the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Next, throw in some spinach and let it wilt. Then, you cook the ground beef, and finally, scramble the eggs. Stir it all together and dinner is served.

Joe’s Special is best served with sliced bread. Sourdough is my favorite, and it’s the classic San Francisco choice. Use a fork to scoot some of the scramble onto the bread and enjoy!

Joe’s Special (Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms) Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6-ounce bag (8 cups) baby spinach
  • 1 pound (85 to 95%) lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional
  • Sliced sourdough bread or rolls, to serve

Method

1 Cook the mushrooms, if using: Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms into the skillet in a single layer and leave them alone, without stirring, until they begin to brown, about five minutes.

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

2 Cook the onions: Add the onions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and the garlic has lost its raw bite, about five more minutes.

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

3 Wilt the spinach: Add the spinach to the skillet, stirring it into the other ingredients for a couple minutes so that it wilts and reduces in volume.

When the spinach has just barely wilted, transfer everything from the skillet to a large, shallow serving bowl. 

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

4 Cook the ground beef. Add the ground beef to the empty skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce, pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt over top. Cook the beef, breaking it up with your spatula into crumbles.

Continue to cook until the beef is fully cooked through with no trace of pink remaining, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the cooked beef to the serving bowl with the sautéed vegetables. Pour off any fat still in the pan, leaving just a thin film to cook the eggs. (Add a teaspoon of cooking oil or butter if the pan seems dry.)

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

 

5 Scramble the eggs. Return the pan to the stove and reduce the heat to medium low. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with tabasco, just until thoroughly combined.

Pour the eggs into the skillet, and scramble just until the curds are barely wet and beginning to break apart, stirring often, about five minutes.

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

6 Mix everything together and serve. Add the cooked beef and vegetables back to the skillet, breaking up the eggs into bite sized pieces and stirring everything together until evenly combined.

Transfer everything back to the serving bowl and serve hot, with sourdough bread alongside.

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

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Coco Morante

A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

More from Coco

Joe's Special Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms

Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Renee Mills

    LOL! I literally laughed out loud when I finished reading through this recipe! My family will LOVE this! :D

  • Michael Woodke

    The origin of this dish was was always locally disputed. Some fans claimed Original Joes, others gave the credit to Marin Joes in Marin County. I’ll go with Marin Joes. We lived in the area for over 20 yrs and ordered this almost every time we went in there. It was great every time! Thanks for this Coco. Elise, you do a terrific job.

  • Patricia

    Is this from Original Joes? I was there when there was only one stainless steel diner at the top of Lombard Street….

  • jimmy smith

    I add a little jalapeno hot sauce for a little kick

  • Kathleen

    This sounds delicious. Will definitely try it.

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