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Joe's Special

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is hash. San Francisco hash. It’s a sort of ultimate comfort food, good any hour of the day or night, for any occasion; and a sovereign meal for before or after-drinking. Restaurants across the country claim they originated the dish. Not true. The true story of its origination is lost, apocryphal, relative, or nobody knows – your choice. But, it is certain the dish was created and first served in San Francisco the evening before Miles Archer was murdered in an alley.

At one time there were some number of Joe’s in San Francisco, including but not necessarily limited to Joe’s, Original Joe’s, New Joe’s, and Little Joe’s all going at the same time. Each served some version of ...

(Serves some number between 2 and 4, inclusive)

1tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground beef (no leaner than 85/15, 80/20 is ideal)
1 medium onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 lb package, frozen, chopped spinach
Kosher or sea salt (coarse enough to “pinch”)
Oregano, dried
Basil, dried
(Optional) 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
6 Large eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
(Optional) 1/3 cup requesón or ricotta cheese

Preparing the mise en place:
Defrost the spinach in its bag. Open the bag and pour the spinach into a sieve or colander. (Important Note: Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible.)

Chop the onion into medium dice and reserve. If you can, slice the garlic very thin slices (about 1/12" to 1/16" thick); if you cannot slice that thin (for instance your knife isn’t that sharp), mince the garlic and reserve it.

Put a pinch (1/2 tsp) each of dried basil and dried oregano in a small bowl.

Cooking the dish:
Preheat a 12" pan on a medium-high burner, and when the pan is hot, lift it off the fire and add a little olive oil. Swirl the pan to check its heat. (If the pan is hot enough to cook, the oil will run freely and coat the pan easily.) Replace the pan on the fire to finish heating or begin cooking. .

When the oil is hot, add the ground beef, and use a spoon to start breaking it up. Spread the hamburger evenly over the pan and let it begin to brown unmolested for at least two minutes. After the bottom has browned, stir the meat to further break it up, and again let it sit unmolested and brown. Continue stirring and waiting until the meat is almost completely browned. (Note: This slow browning with its “less than usual” amount of stirring actually browns the meat, rather than just cooking it dark. Browned meat tastes different and better.)

When the meat is almost completely browned, with just a little pink left, add the onions. Stir occasionally and cook until the onions are transparent. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Stir, taste and adjust for salt. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for a four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the spinach (and mushrooms if using), and stir to incorporate as evenly as possible. Taste and adjust for salt (you won’t believe how much salt this takes – it’s the spinach). Continue cooking until the garlic and spinach (and mushrooms) are cooked through and hot, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 minutes more.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly. When the garlic is cooked, add the eggs to the meat, along with a grating of nutmeg, the oregano and basil. Cook and stir until the eggs have set, about four minutes more. Stir in the cheese, and cook until heated through.

Please let me know if you do or don't like the recipe, about any issues you have, and/or any improvements you think should be made.

As always, if you repost the recipe or share it with someone else please attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. I'd really appreciate it if you could mention my eventual book: COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates.

Don't forget to look at the Cook Food Good blog at ChefTalk - Cooking Forums, Cook Book Review, Cooking Articles and Recipes by the chefs

Thanks for listening,
post #2 of 10
A couple of thoughts and a comment or two.

I don't believe Miles Archer was murdered in an alley. If you recall, Miles' body was found at the bottom of a hill (forget on just what street - thinking perhaps Stockton). Joe's Special was first served earlier that evening, not the evening before the murder.

With this dish it's sometimes nice to add a little chile sauce, like Tabasco, Marie Sharps medium habanero sauce, or something similar, to the eggs.

Some people like to add a bit of nutmeg to the dish to compement the spinach. I'm not sure if both the hot sauce and the nutmeg should be used, one or the other IMHO. Ooops - I see you've suggested using nutmeg. My bad <LOL>

Considering todays sensibilities, it might be worth a thought or two to consider draining the excess fat resulting from the browning of the meat. When I've made this I've used a rough grind for the meat - chile grind I think it's called. IMO, the additional texture enhances the dish.

I like your browning technique. I think it's a brilliant idea.

Th-th-th-that's all folks.

Oh, one more thing - slicing the garlic. An old-fashioned, single edged razor blade works great for making nice thin slices. Think of Pauly making sauce in Goodfellas.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Burrit St. It's mos' def an alley off Bush. There's a plaque.


Chipotle's wildly overused, but I'd go El Yucateco Chipotle.

Good thought. You know what cracked me up was that I was thinking of the Joe's on Turk and how they cook -- and I can just imagine the kitchen's reaction that a Joe's was made with measured quantities. At Marin Joe's you can get it with zucchini.

post #4 of 10
In the similar dish I make I use a medium cheddar or some such cheese, I'll have to try it with parm. Actually I've been wanting to make it with some leftover smoked brisket instead of ground beef, I just haven't smoked a brisket yet this summer.

Oh, I'm assuming you meant 85/15, not 80/15

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Interesting thought. Smoked brisket doesn't last long enough around here for that.

Good catch. Thanks.

post #6 of 10
There was a fire at the Tenderloin Joe's and the place closed for rebuilding.
Don't know if it's reopened yet. Gotta check. I hope it does reopen. I liked that place. It had a certain charm that newer places don't have.

post #7 of 10
Interesting recipe, BDL. I've never used frozen spinach (the only frozen veg I use is peas - there's something about the texture of most veggies when frozen that I dislike) - I would like to substitute fresh when I try your recipe - would this alter the texture in any way?
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
You can certainly use fresh spinach, but ...

The advantage to using frozen is that you can really wring it out while it's cool enough handle. Tu use fresh spinach you'll have to wilt it first, then partially cool it enough to get it dry.

Great Student Teaching Moment (great student, not great moment): If you deconstruct the recipe, you'll see it's a twisted "Florentine." Something I'm sure you know how to handle. So, handle the spinach as you think best. Also ... I try to write recipes a new cook can follow and a good cook can tweak. That you want to make it your own, means good things.

I like frozen spinach for any application requiring that it be thoroughly squeezed; using it for creamed spinach, sometimes saags (depending), as well as Florentines and their progeny. It's certainly more convenient than chiffonading and wilting, and a lot less messy than wilting and chopping. Frozen chopped tastes as though it's actually handled more gently in the packing process than my wilting and chopping. Whether or not it's actually better is debatable; if you have really good, fresh spinach available to you that's certainly a point in its favor.

The dish originated in San Francisco, and so is particularly friendly to ... uhmmm ... how to say this in a family forum ... experimentation. While we're on the subject, quantities in this recipe are extremely informal, even by my relaxed standards. This is very much an "as madame prefers." Besides fresh vegetables there are other regional perversions you might find interesting, such as using ground (minced) lamb, or a beef/lamb mix. Even a bit o' chip sauce might not be amiss. I hear there's a pretty good beverage made around there, too. No. Not Irn-Bru.

Let me know how San Francisco tastes in Scotland.
post #9 of 10
Thank you.
I was thinking of serving it with a cheeky little 2008 vintage Irn Bru... I may have to think again!

When I have a chance to try this - perhaps when the nights are drawing in, I'll let you know how successful I was in achieving the dish!
post #10 of 10
So they "melt" in the pan.....

...Sure beats egg noodles and ketchup...
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