Have you ever heard of the Joe’s Special? It’s an odd, yet exceptional scramble. Consisting of spinach, ground beef, and eggs, this popular San Francisco dish dates back to the 1920’s.
It certainly doesn’t win a food beauty contest, but when you need something easy, delicious and totally satisfying, this is a first place dish!
Join us as we walk you through making this diner classic allergy-friendly and also as a plant-based option. We also provide a link at the end of the post to Chef Joel’s youtube video on making the Joe’s Special.
Joe’s Special holds a special place in Joel’s heart. His first kitchen manager job was at Julio’s Italian Restaurant in Fresno, California. Their most popular dish was the Joe’s Special. So popular, that his closest friends, Frank and Bob, would come in weekly and sit at the counter to watch Joel prepare this dish for them. Bob loved it so much that he asked Joel over to show him how to make this favorite.
Obviously, we enjoy Joe’s Special quite often.
The classic version of this dish includes eggs, spinach, and ground beef. Other common ingredients are onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
Make it Egg Free
Joe’s Special is great without eggs. JUST Egg is also a great alternative to eggs. However, this plant-based liquid egg does contain soy. If soy and egg are both issues, simply omit the eggs or egg replacement.
Beef or Beyond Meat
Any ground meat can be substituted for the beef, including Beyond Meat. Our Joe’s Special here is made with Beyond Meat. But use whatever you have from ground beef to ground chicken or turkey.
- Sauté onions over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add sliced mushrooms and cook until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Transfer from the skillet to a bowl or plate.
- Add a teaspoon of oil to the empty skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and sprinkle with salt, oregano, black pepper, and nutmeg. Cook the beef, breaking it up with a potato masher or spatula into crumbles. Continue to cook until the beef is fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off any excess fat.
- Add the onion and mushroom mixture back into the skillet. Fold in fresh spinach in batches. Frozen spinach which has been thawed and drained can be used in place of fresh.
- If using eggs or JUST Egg, make a well in the center of the beef and add a little oil. Add the eggs and scramble until completely cooked.
Top with allergy-friendly parmesan cheese, and serve with plenty of crusty allergy-friendly bread.
This San Francisco creation is great any time of day. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
Watch Chef Joel’s video as he makes the Joe’s Special.
Yield 4-6 Servings
Free of: gluten and top 8 food allergens.
An irresistible scramble!
2 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided (1 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tbsp)
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 tsp salt, divided (1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp)
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken) or Beyond Meat
1/2 tsp dried oregano or dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
5 ounces baby spinach, rough chopped (or one 10-ounce package frozen, thawed and drained)
3/4 cup JUST Egg, optional (see recipe notes)
1/4 cup grated alternative parmesan cheese, such as Violife's Just Like Parmesan
Gluten-free baguette or other bread
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and ¼ tsp salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Transfer from the skillet to a bowl or plate.
- Add a teaspoon of oil to the empty skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and sprinkle with remaining ½ tsp salt, oregano, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook the beef, breaking it up with a potato masher or spatula into crumbles. Continue to cook until the beef is fully cooked through with no trace of pink remaining, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off any excess fat.
- Add the onion and mushroom mixture back into the skillet. Fold in the spinach in 3 batches, stirring just until it wilts. If you are using frozen spinach, add it all at this time (thawed and drained well).
- The dish is ready as is. However, if egg allergy is not an issue, make a well in the center of the beef and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the eggs; scramble until completely cooked. Serve and garnish with cheese.
If egg allergy is not an issue, substitute 4 whole eggs, lightly whipped, for the JUST Egg. JUST Egg does contain soy.
If you have an allergy or you're vegan, this special is just as good without eggs.