Sunday, November 20, 2016

Joe's Special - a classic scramble

What do you cook when you're busy and don't want to mess with multiple courses? It's one-skillet recipes to the rescue! This dish, the iconic scramble Joe's Special, is especially welcome during the busy week before a holiday. My version of Joe's Special is quick and easy to prepare, calls for ordinary pantry ingredients and the finished dish is satisfyingly delicious. Win!

We first encountered Joe's Special in the late 60's at  Thirteen Coins Restaurant, a hidden Seattle treasure. Hidden? the restaurant eschewed streetside signage but was well-known for 24/7 service, upholstered swiveling captain's chairs at the counter, an open exhibition kitchen and an extensive menu. Some 40+ years later Thirteen Coins still lists Joe's Special on the menu; that's the staying power of a good restaurant and a classic dish!

Joe's Special has its own history, originating in San Francisco perhaps during the 1850's following the Gold Rush... or in the 1920s... or maybe the late 30's... depending on which source you believe. (link), (link), (link) Most recipes include onion, hamburger, spinach and enough eggs to hold it all together in a scramble. My version adds mushrooms and Parmesan cheese to the mix plus some green Tabasco to pop the flavor. 

This classic scramble is not a pretty dish, but Oh! My! It's! Good! Good for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a light supper or occasional late night meal; it's even a proven beat-the-hangover choice. Lately Joe's Special was a welcome solution to serving a tasty meal when the schedule overflowed with too many things more important than cooking. Definitely a one-skillet recipe coming to the rescue!

Joe's Special

4 eggs (or 1-2 eggs per person)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning (or use dried basil and oregano)
salt and pepper
hot sauce to taste (Green Tabasco recommended)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound small mushrooms, sliced
4 cups fresh baby spinach (or 2 cups julienned kale)
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan shreds plus more for topping.

  1. In a small bowl beat together the eggs, nutmeg, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and a generous splash or two of hot sauce. Set aside.
  2. Use a large skillet and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until they just soften, then sir in the garlic and cook until the onions turn golden.
  3. Add the beef and mushrooms. Stirring occasionally, cook until the meat is no longer pink and the mushrooms give up some liquid.
  4. Add the spinach (or kale) and cook until the greens wilt and the liquid in the pan has evaporated.
  5. Lower the heat to medium-low; add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring often, until the eggs are done (slightly dry but still tender). Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.
  6. Serve immediately with extra cheese to sprinkle on top.

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