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Buffalo Joe

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In 1970, when I moved to Seattle, a restaurant named 13 Coins exerted a strong influence on my cooking style — tossing fresh ingredients in a hot saute pan with some olive oil, and cooking breakfast (or dinner) in a matter of seconds — a very few minutes, at most. A dish which embodied this approach was an old standard called Joe's Special. Composed of eggs, chopped sirloin, and spinach, this has been a choice protein fix for nearly four decades.

The luxury enjoyed by front line chefs is an army of prep slaves in the back. All they need to do is grab the chopped, shredded, or shelled ingredients, and do their little show. Here is an embellishment of Joe's Special, with a few additions and alterations. It retains the same spirit. And the prep work is minimal. I call it Buffalo Joe.

The recipe

Ingredients are per person and best fixed in batches of no more than two servings.

  • 3 Large, Fresh Organic Eggs (room temperature)
  • ¼ lb. Organic, Grass-fed, Ground Buffalo
  • A huge handful of Fresh Pungent Greens: Arugula, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Mizuna, etc. (torn into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano Leaves
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Celtic Sea Salt to taste
  • Hint of Cracked Black Pepper
  • 3-5 Drops of Wright's Liquid Smoke
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Put it Together

This is one of those projects like pouring concrete into a mold. You've spent months building the mold, and the moment of truth is going to come down in a matter of seconds. Everything has to be in place and ready to roll. So don't start cooking until all the prep work is finished and organized at your fingertips.

Beat the eggs in a bowl-shaped bowl (not all of them are, you know), then blend in salt and pepper, oregano, and garlic, as well as the liquid smoke.

Ease the buffalo into a hot pan, well lubricated with olive oil. Temperature is important here. You want it hot, but not so hot that it's going to sear the meat or dry out the eggs. Work the pieces with the utensil of choice, and when the buffalo begins to bleed, pour in the egg mixture. Stir quickly, this will happen pretty fast, especially if you like your eggs on the creamy side.

Just before things start to set up, stir in the greens and turn off the heat. By the time the food is well mixed, the greens will be done, and you can slide the contents onto a hot plate and serve with whatever accompaniment fits your tastes. A hearty slab of whole-grain sourdough toast works well.


If you'd like to transform this dish to Asian style, forget the Black Pepper, substitute Toasted Sesame Oil for the Olive Oil, add a teaspoon of Freshly Minced Ginger, and use Tamari instead of Salt.

If you're going to substitute beef, please make sure it's organic and, ideally, grass-fed.


Publishing this recipe makes me smile because so many clients and acquaintances assume, for some reason, that I'm a vegetarian. I'm not a "meat-monger", but I eat what I need when I need it. And I have to convince quite a few deficient vegetarian clients that they need some animal protein.

Contrary to "conventional alternative" wisdom, there is nothing inherently holy or healthy about avoiding flesh foods. The quality of the foods we eat has far greater influence on both our health and our connection to spirit than whether or not meats are included.

And, of course, balance is always the key. The recipe offered above, for example, represents the extreme end of a continuum. It would be rare for us to eat this frequently. We must understand our personal constitution, our current state, the seasons of the year, the time of day, and its effect on us, to successfully use it.


13 Coins still operates its two loctions: downtown Seattle and SEATAC airport — open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's lost the sparkle of its heyday, and my eclectic favorites, such as sweetbreads or liver have been removed from the menu. But it's still a great spot for a hearty meal, at any hour, if you're overnighting at the airport. And I still appreciate the influences I received there in those early days.



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