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 served alongside.
Back in the 80s, 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.
A Fresh, Homemade Take on a Diner Favorite
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.
The 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!
The History of Joe’s Special
According to local San Franciscan lore, Joe's Special was a dish created at New Joe's restaurant in North Beach. In 1937, one of the partners who helped create New Joe's started his own restaurant and called it Original Joe's, where Joe's Special was still one of the most popular dishes on their menu.
This recipe contains mushrooms, but they weren't always part of the dish. However, nutmeg was part of the original recipe. If you wish, you can also add a splash of sherry, too.
Joe's Special was always served with a side of sourdough bread, and sometimes with a glass of red wine and a small salad. For a hearty breakfast, Joe's Special was served with orange juice and a side of hash browns.
More Diner-Style Favorites
Joe's Special (Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Beef, and Mushrooms)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach (8 cups)
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
Cook the mushrooms:
Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and leave them alone, without stirring, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
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, 5 more minutes.
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.
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 the 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.)
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 (if using), 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 5 minutes.
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 a side of sourdough bread.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||38%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 10mg||48%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|