Ugly Food That Tastes Good: Joe’s Special

In my arsenal of ugly recipes, this is probably the worst offender. It’s ugly when you start, ugly while you’re cooking it, and ugly when it’s finished. Thank god it is so tasty that it is worth it casting aside this discriminatory idea that we eat with our eyes first.

Also: Super Nutritious.

You know how everyone and their mother wants you to drink Green Smoothies for breakfast because it’s such a delicious protein filled way to camoflouge all of that spinach? Well this is the Green Smoothie’s dinner equivalent. And it will rock your socks off, even if you are a confirmed hot spinach hater like me.

Allow me to introduce to you: Joe’s Special.
Joe's Special

Have you heard of Joe’s Special? It is a famously San Franciscan dish that I remember hearing about in my childhood. The story of origin varies — some say it was invented to fill the bellies of hungry miners during the gold rush, others say it was a midnight snack for local jazz musicians in the 20s, my parents used to order it at a restaurant that they enjoyed on those occasional date nights they had while I was growing up. I can’t remember not knowing about Joe’s Special. So the first time I actually saw it, I was shocked that it looked a lot more..um, “rustic” than I had imagined for a dish with such history. I expected something fancy done in little bites on fine white china, what I got was something that Ina Garten would say looks like “A Dog’s Breakfast.”

But do you know what it tastes like? Bliss.

It’s a combination of beef, onions, spinach, mushrooms and eggs that has all of the flavor but none of the refinement of a good frittata. And? It falls within the Paleo/Primal spectrum no matter how strict you are. Omit the dairy and it’s still great! Not drinking alcohol? Substitute Beef Broth. Anyway you slice it, it will come through in the clutch the next time you need to get a quick meal on the table. And as a bonus it will give you a good story to tell.

Joe’s Special
Adapted from: Everywhere. This recipe specifically is on a 3×5 card from my Mama!

Ingredients:
1 TBS Coconut Oil (Or cooking fat of your choice)
1 Large Onion, diced
6-8 Large Mushrooms, sliced (Any kind you you like will do)
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb Grass Fed Ground Beef
6-8 oz of Fresh Spinach (About 6 big handfuls. More is ok too!)
1/2 Red Wine or Beef Broth (Depending on if you cook with alcohol)
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Omit if you don’t do dairy. Totally cool.)
2 Extra Large Eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper

Method:

1. Saute diced onion and sliced mushrooms in Coconut Oil over medium heat. You want to get the mushrooms good and caramelized. Salt and pepper the onions and mushrooms when they have browned a bit otherwise the mushrooms will get rubbery.

2. Add garlic, cook for about a minute.

3. Crumble in ground beef and brown. When beef is cooked, salt and pepper this layer liberally as well.

4. Add in your spinach. It will look like a lot. It will cook down. In fact, sometimes I add extra just to get crazy. You can’t have too much spinach in this dish, so don’t be afraid.

5. Pour wine/beef broth over your spinach and meat concoction and let the spinach wilt down.

6. Add in your parmesan and blend together.

7. Pour beaten eggs over the whole shebang, stir until eggs are cooked. Serve with a little extra grated parmesan or spinach for garnish.

8. Enjoy the ugliest dish ever!

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Caramelized Italian Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Jam

Pork chops are such a fantastic blank slate and this is such a great way to spice them up. 

Like chicken breasts, they can be a bit bland and dry out easily, but with a few tweaks they can also be a superior weeknight supper. Seasoning and Steam are the keys here. 


I served these up with a salad and some simple roasted broccoli last night (toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic powder, salt + pepper at 400 degrees for 40 mins) and our mid-week dinner turned into quite the treat. 

Ingredients for two servings:

4 boneless pork loin chops sliced about an inch thick
2 Sweet Yellow Onions (or any onion, really)
Salt + Pepper
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder 
Italian Seasoning
Herbs de Provence
Fat of Your Choice
Balsamic Vinegar

For the pork chops:

Heat a pan over medium high and add your choice of fat (I used ghee here.  YUM.)
Liberally Season both sides of your chops with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. 
Drop them in the pan:
(I like to buy in bulk and butcher it myself just like my friend Sarah taught me.  Easy and cheap!)
Allow them to develop a nice brown crust (for about 5-7 minutes) then flip and repeat on the other side.  Don’t worry about them cooking all the way through, we are going for crispness and color here.
When they are dark and gorgeous, drop 1/8 cup of water in the center of the pan to do a little deglazing of all of those bits.  Then quickly cover and allow them to steam for 3-4 more minutes just until they are cooked through.  They will be crispy on the outside but still juicy on the inside.
 
For the Onion Jam:
Peel onion, cut in half, then thinly slice and throw into a pan heated on medium with a fat of your choice.
Toss them around and let them get nice and golden.  Patience is a virtue here.
When they get a little color on them toss in some salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence.  Herbs de Provence sounds so snooty — it isn’t, I promise.  It is worth procuring though, because it gives them a magical little kick — I think Giada taught me that.  She also taught me how to pronounce Limoncello.
Thanks Giada! 
So, now that we’ve cleared that up, once the onions begin to really caramelize (about 25-30 minutes in) drop in a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. No need to measure, you can’t screw this part up.
 

Allow the vinegar to reduce a bit (3-5 minutes) to make your onions nice and jammy. 

Top your chops with the jam and serve along your favorite vegetables.  Tons of delicious flavors, beautiful presentation, weeknight simplicity.  

Now that is something I can get behind!

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